Prescription patterns of granulocyte colony-stimulating factors in patients with breast cancer: A real-world study

Shu Wei Hsu, Shao Chin Chiang, Jason C. Hsu, Yu Ko*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and objectives Myelosuppressive chemotherapy is effective for breast cancer but carries a potential risk of febrile neutropenia (FN). Clinical practice guidelines have recommended prophylaxis with granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) to reduce the incidence of FN in patients receiving chemotherapy. We aimed to examine the use of G-CSFs for primary prophylaxis for FN and to see whether it follows the guidelines. In addition, we examined the changes in the use of long-acting and short-acting G-CSFs in patients with breast cancer over the past ten years. Methods This was a retrospective observational real-world study. The data were obtained from the clinical research database of three hospitals affiliated with Taipei Medical University. Patients with breast cancer who initiated their first chemotherapy regimen between January 1, 2011, and December 31, 2020, were identified by the ICD codes and their use of filgrastim or pegfilgrastim was identified by the Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical codes. Whether and how G-CSF was prescribed during the study patients' first chemotherapy regimen was examined, and the annual change in the total number of short- and long-acting G-CSFs prescribed to the study patients from 2011 to 2020 was analyzed. Results Among the 2,444 patients who were prescribed at least one of the examined 15 breast cancer chemotherapy drugs, 1,414 did not use any G-CSFs during their first chemotherapy regimen while 145 used G-CSFs for primary prophylaxis and 185 for treatment. Among the patients receiving high FN risk regimens, only 8.6% used G-CSF for primary prophylaxis. The average (± SD) number of days for short-acting G-CSF use was 2.3 (± 1.5) days with a median of 2 days. In addition, it was found that there was a significant reduction in long-acting G-CSF use (p = 0.03) whereas the changes in short-acting G-CSF use over time were not significant (p = 0.50). Conclusions Our study results show that G-CSFs are used for primary prophylaxis in a small percentage of patients with breast cancer and the duration of short-acting G-CSF use is relatively short. Considering the significant clinical and economic impact of FN, it is hoped that the prescription patterns of G-CSFs observed can provide an important reference for future clinical practice and reimbursement policy.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0288642
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number7 July
StatePublished - Jul 2023


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