What is supportive care?

Doctors will sometimes refer to certain treatments as supportive care. The goal of supportive care is to help you manage the symptoms of your disease. These treatments do not treat the underlying cause of the disease.

In general, supportive care includes the following:

  • Blood transfusions to raise blood cell counts
  • Antibiotics to treat infection
  • Iron chelation therapy to treat iron overload, a side effect of getting many red blood cell transfusions

Growth factors may also be used as supportive care. Growth factors are naturally occurring hormones produced your body. They cause your bone marrow to produce more blood cells. Red cell growth factor is most commonly used in bone marrow failure patients. It is called erythropoietin or EPO for short. Man made forms of erythropoietin come in the brand names Epogen and Procrit. Darbapoietin is similar to EPO, and comes in the brand name Aranesp. White cell growth factors and platelet growth factors are also available and used in some patients.