A predictive model for neutropenia associated with cancer chemotherapy.
Studies of primary prophylaxis of febrile neutropenia (FN) with recombinant human granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (rHu-G-CSF, filgrastim) administered to all patients starting their initial course of chemotherapy have demonstrated clinical effectiveness and an economic advantage in a wide range of settings. A recent meta-analysis confirmed the ability of filgrastim to reduce the risk of FN and documented infection in a variety of malignancies in both adults and children. The threshold risk for FN at which a cost saving is achieved by using filgrastim is inversely related to the daily cost of the drug and duration of hospitalization. Clinical practice guidelines for the use of filgrastim were developed based on these observations. Recent studies incorporating indirect institutional costs demonstrated that a cost saving can be achieved at substantially lower FN risk thresholds than previously estimated. Despite the demonstrated efficacy of filgrastim in primary prophylaxis, its value may be further increased by appropriately selecting patients and better understanding the importance of sustaining dose intensity in specific malignancies. Clinical prediction models capable of identifying individuals at high risk for neutropenic complications yield further reductions in FN risk thresholds and treatment costs in patients receiving cancer chemotherapy. These models also may be used to evaluate the cost-effectiveness or cost-efficiency of filgrastim. A clinical prediction model recently was presented and validated incorporating both baseline clinical characteristics as well as the results of the first cycle of chemotherapy in patients with early-stage breast cancer. A cost-effectiveness ratio of $34,297/year of life saved was estimated based on dose-response assumptions derived from a previously reported adjuvant breast cancer trial studying the impact of dose reduction on disease-free survival. The cost-effectiveness of filgrastim was evident over a wide range of clinical and cost assumptions. Clinical prediction models permit the rational and cost-effective identification of patients for filgrastim support. Existing clinical practice guidelines should be reevaluated in light of new information available on both the total costs associated with FN as well as the cost-effectiveness of these agents in patients receiving chemotherapy for sensitive and potentially curable malignancies.
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