The granulocyte colony‐stimulating factor (G‐CSF) has been shown to accelerate recovery from severe neutropenia and to decrease the incidence of documented infections after intensive chemotherapy in cancer patients. However, the routine prophylactic use of G‐CSF is expensive. This study was conducted to determine the role of G‐CSF as adjunct therapy for septicemia following neutropenia caused by chemotherapy in children with acute leukemia. Fifty consecutive episodes of septicemia were studied involving 34 episodes of Gram‐negative, 7 episodes of Gram‐positive, 5 episodes of polymicrobial bacterial septicemia, one episode of fungemia, and 3 episodes of disseminated fungal infection. In the first 25 episodes, G‐CSF was not used (group A). For the next 16 episodes, G‐CSF 200 μg per square meter per day subcutaneously was given immediately after the septicemia was documented until the absolute neutrophil count was maintained at more than 1,500 per cubic millimeter (group B). Thereafter, G‐CSF at the same dose as that of group B was prophylactically used in all the children who received high‐dose cytosine arablnc‐side‐containing regimens. Nine episodes of septicemia occurred (group C). The incidences of mortality per episode of septicemia in groups A, B, and C were 12.0% (3/25), 12.5% (2/16) and 0% (0/9), respectively. Statistically, there was no difference between the three groups overall and in pair‐wise comparisons (all P > 0.5). The durations of G‐CSF administration in group B ranged from 6 to 26 days with a median of 12 days and the durations of G‐CSF administration in group C ranged from 10 to 23 days with a median of 19 days. With or without G‐CSF, there may be no significant difference in the mortality of septicemia following neutropenia caused by chemotherapy in children with acute leukemia.
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