Hematopoietic Stimulants

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Hematopoietic Stimulants


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Hematopoietic stimulants are called granulocyte colony stimulating factors (G-CSF) or granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factors (GM-CSF). They are given as shots under your skin. People usually get a shot every day. But Neulasta is longer-lasting and may be given less often.

How It Works

Hematopoietic stimulants are the man-made form of something that is produced naturally by your body. These drugs help your bone marrow make new white blood cells.

Why It Is Used

When you have chemotherapy for cancer, it kills the cells in your bone marrow. Hematopoietic stimulants help your bone marrow make new white blood cells. You need white blood cells to prevent or fight infection while you are being treated with chemotherapy.

Clinical trials are testing hematopoietic stimulants to see if they help people with some types of cancer. They work by stimulating the immune system.

How Well It Works

Hematopoietic stimulants help your body make new white blood cells and help prevent infection after chemotherapy. Preventing infection is an important part of cancer treatment. It may make it less likely that you will have severe complications or need to be hospitalized.

Side Effects

Side effects are common with hematopoietic stimulants and can include:

  • Mild to moderate bone pain.
  • Headache.
  • Fever.
  • Swollen spleen.
  • High levels of uric acid, which may cause gout.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Most people have few problems with hematopoietic stimulants.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Brian Leber, MDCM, FRCPC - Hematology
Last Revised February 9, 2011

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