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GM-CSF (Sargramostim)

Supportive Care

Brand names:


Other names:

Granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor

Often used for:


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What is GM-CSF (Sargramostim)?

Granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) is a man-made form of a natural human hormone. GM-CSF is also called sargramostim or Leukine®. GM-CSF helps the body make white blood cells called neutrophils. Neutrophils are cells that fight infections. Some patients need this medicine to help build up neutrophils that have been destroyed by chemotherapy. A low number of neutrophils in the blood is called neutropenia.

GM-CSF is a colorless liquid medicine. It is given as an injection (shot) under the skin or by IV into a vein. This medicine may be given in the clinic, hospital, or at home. A nurse will talk with you before GM-CSF is started. If needed, you will be taught how to mix or give the medicine.

By liquid under skin icon

May be given as a liquid under the skin (SubQ)

By IV icon

May be given as a liquid into a vein by IV

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Possible Side Effects

Symptoms of infusion-related reaction may include chills, shortness of breath, coughing, dizziness, low blood pressure, pain in the chest, swelling of the face or neck

Not all patients who take GM-CSF will experience these side effects. Common side effects are in bold, but there may be others. Please report all suspected side effects to your doctor or pharmacist.

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Tips for Families

Be sure to discuss these and other recommendations with your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Some patients get GM-CSF by IV into a vein. If your child gets GM-CSF by IV, a nurse will give the dose.
  • Some patients get GM-CSF as a shot under the skin (subcutaneous injection). A nurse may give the shot, or you may be taught to give the shot.
  • Patients should tell their doctor if they are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Sexually active patients should take steps to prevent pregnancy during and after treatment as recommended by their doctor.
  • Report fever or other signs of infection to your doctor.
  • Always read the medication label and follow the instructions from your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.

Special instructions

If you are taught how to give GM-CSF, you will learn:

  • How to read the prescription label for the medication name and dose
  • How to mix the medicine
  • How to withdraw the medicine from the vial
  • How to give the shot
  • Problems to watch for
  • How to store the medicine
  • How to dispose of the needle and medicine safely

Before giving a dose of GM-CSF: Take it out of the refrigerator about an hour before and let it warm to room temperature.

GM-CSF should always be a clear, colorless liquid. Do not use if the liquid looks cloudy, changes color, or has flakes or specks in it.

In case of a missed dose, give the missed dose as soon as possible. If it is near the time for the next dose, skip the dose, and give the injection at the next regularly scheduled time.

Mixing the medicine

  • GM-CSF comes as a powder in a vial. Each vial contains 250 micrograms of GM-CSF.
  • Before giving the injection, you must mix the powder with the liquid given to you by the pharmacy. Add the liquid to the vial of powder just before you withdraw a dose.
  • Gently swirl to mix the powder with the water. Do not shake the mixture.
  • You may withdraw more than 1 dose of GM-CSF from each vial.
  • You may continue to withdraw doses from a vial for 20 days after you mixed the vial or until the vial is empty (whichever comes first).
  • For some patients, the pharmacy will provide the GM-CSF already mixed.

Storing the medicine

  • Keep unused or partial GM-CSF vials in the refrigerator.
  • Protect from light. Do not freeze GM-CSF.
  • GM-CSF may be kept at room temperature for up to 6 hours. Do not use GM-CSF if the vial is warm.
  • Check the expiration date on the vial or written on the prescription label. Do not use the GM-CSF past this date.