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Understanding Filgrastim

Your healthcare provider has prescribed the medicine filgrastim.

Filgrastim raises the number of neutrophils in your blood. These are infection-fighting cells. Filgrastim is given as a shot after chemotherapy. Your healthcare provider or pharmacist can give you information about it.

This sheet will also help you learn more about filgrastim.

What filgrastim can do for you

This medicine can:

  • Make you less likely to get an infection.

  • Make it safe for you to be in close contact with people. And as a result, you can do more.

  • Help prevent illness that could cause a delay in your treatment.

  • Improve your quality of life.

How it works

Certain kinds of chemotherapy reduce the number of neutrophils in your blood. As the number of these cells go down, you are less able to fight infection. Filgrastim helps your bone marrow make these blood cells faster.

About 24 hours after chemotherapy, you will get your first filgrastim shot. You'll get a shot every day until your blood counts reach a certain level. Talk with your healthcare provider about this level and how long you may need to get filgrastim.

Coping with side effects

Common side effects are:

  • Aching bones, joints, and muscles

  • Mild fever

  • Redness, swelling, or itching where the shot is given

These symptoms can often be eased with a heating pad and pain medicine. Don't take anything that has aspirin in it. Check with your healthcare provider before you take any pain medicine.

Other rare side effects include:

  • Headache

  • Pain in the lower back or pelvis

  • Skin rash or itching

  • Tiredness

  • Cough

  • Shortness of breath

  • Nausea

Tell your healthcare provider about any changes you notice.

When should I call my healthcare provider?

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Possible signs of infection, such as:

    • Fever

    • Chills

    • Rash

    • Sore throat

    • Diarrhea

    • Redness at the site of a wound or sore

  • Pain in the left upper stomach or left shoulder area (this could be a sign of an enlarged spleen, a rare side effect of this treatment)

  • Easy bruising, bleeding

  • Shortness of breath, wheezing, dizziness, swelling around the mouth or eyes, quick pulse, or sweating

  • Redness, swelling, or itching at the site of the shot

Online Medical Reviewer: Kimberly Stump-Sutliff RN MSN AOCNS
Online Medical Reviewer: Lu Cunningham RN BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Todd Gersten MD
Date Last Reviewed: 6/1/2019
© 2000-2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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