Background: The use of chemotherapy regimens with moderate or high risk of febrile neutropenia (defined as having a FN incidence of 10% or more) and the respective incidence and clinical management of FN in breast cancer and NHL has not been studied in Belgium. The existence of a medical need for G-CSF primary and secondary prophylaxis with these regimens was investigated in a real-life setting.
Methods: Nine oncologists and six hematologists from different Belgian general hospitals and university centers were surveyed to collect expert opinion and real-life data (year 2007) on the use of chemotherapy regimens with moderate or high risk of febrile neutropenia and the clinical management of FN in patients aged <65 years with breast cancer or NHL. Data were retrospectively obtained, over a 6-month observation period.
Results: The most frequently used regimens in breast cancer patients (n = 161) were FEC (45%), FEC-T (37%) and docetaxel alone (6%). In NHL patients (n = 39), R-CHOP-21 (33%) and R-ACVBP-14 (15%) were mainly used. Without G-CSF primary prophylaxis (PP), FN occurred in 31% of breast cancer patients, and 13% had PSN. After G-CSF secondary prophylaxis (SP), 4% experienced further FN events. Only 1 breast cancer patient received PP, and did not experience a severe neutropenic event. Overall, 30% of chemotherapy cycles observed in breast cancer patients were protected by PP/SP. In 10 NHL patients receiving PP, 2 (20%) developed FN, whereas 13 (45%) of the 29 patients without PP developed FN and 3 (10%) PSN. Overall, 55% of chemotherapy cycles observed in NHL patients were protected by PP/SP. Impaired chemotherapy delivery (timing and/or dose) was reported in 40% (breast cancer) and 38% (NHL) of patients developing FN. Based on oncologist expert opinion, hospitalization rates for FN (average length of stay) without and with PP were, respectively, 48% (4.2 days) and 19% (1.5 days). Similar rates were obtained from hematologists.
Conclusions: Despite the studied chemotherapy regimens being known to be associated with a moderate or high risk of FN, upfront G-CSF prophylaxis was rarely used. The observed incidence of severe neutropenic events without G-CSF prophylaxis was higher than generally reported in the literature. The impact on medical resources used is sizeable.