Neulasta is used for preventing infections in people who are undergoing certain types of chemotherapy. The medication, which is given through an injection, works by binding to stem cells and stimulating the production of neutrophils to decrease the risk of infection. At this time, there are no Neulasta uses approved for children or adolescents.
Neulasta® (pegfilgrastim) is a prescription injection used to help prevent infections in people undergoing chemotherapy. It belongs to a group of medications known as granulocyte colony-stimulating factors (G-CSF).
Many types of chemotherapy affect the bone marrow's ability to produce blood cells, causing several of the common chemotherapy side effects. For instance, if the bone marrow makes fewer red blood cells, anemia can occur. When fewer white blood cells are produced, infection may occur. Neutrophils, a specific type of white blood cell, are particularly important for preventing infection. Having a low neutrophil count (known medically as neutropenia) significantly affects the body's ability to fight off infection (see Chemotherapy and Infections). The body may be susceptible to bacterial, viral, or fungal infections that usually do not affect healthy individuals.
Neutropenia can be dangerous in a few different ways. Not only does it increase the risk of infections (which may be more difficult to treat), having a low neutrophil count can also cause your chemotherapy to be delayed. After each chemotherapy cycle, you must wait until your neutrophils have recovered to a safe level before you can continue with the next chemotherapy regimen. These delays can decrease the effectiveness of chemotherapy.
Not everyone receiving chemotherapy should take Neulasta. Neulasta should not be used in people with certain cancers known as myeloid cancers, such as acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) or chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), as the medication could make these cancers worse. Also, Neulasta should only be used with certain types of chemotherapy that are likely to cause neutropenia.