Growth Factor Support

Stimulating Your Body’s Ability to Make Blood Cells

Anti-cancer drugs can interfere with the body's ability to make blood cells. Some patients undergoing cancer treatment benefit from colony-stimulating factors (CSFs, also known as hematopoietic growth factors). CSFs stimulate the production and maturation of white blood cells (which fight infection) and red blood cells (which carry oxygen).

Your physician may prescribe CSFs to reduce the likelihood of developing infectious complications or anemia. Examples of CSFs in cancer therapy include:

  • G-CSF (filgrastim) and GM-CSF (sargramostim) are used to increase white blood cell production, thereby reducing the risk of infection in patients receiving chemotherapy. G-CSF and GM-CSF can also stimulate the production of stem cells in preparation for stem cell or bone marrow transplants.
  • Erythropoietin (epoetin) is used increase the production of red blood cells and reduce the need for red blood cell transfusions in patients receiving chemotherapy.

Researchers are studying CSFs in clinical trials to treat some types of leukemia, metastatic colorectal cancer, melanoma, lung cancer and other types of cancer.

Source: National Cancer Institute

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