Fever/clinical signs and association with neutropenia in solid cancer patients–bacterial infection as the main cause.

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Fever/clinical signs and association with neutropenia in solid cancer patients--bacterial infection as the main cause.

Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2010;11(5):1273-7

Authors: Rasool Hassan BA, Yusoff ZB, Othman SB

Abstract
INTRODUCTION: Neutropenia remains one of the serious side effects of chemotherapeutics drugs making cancer patients face serious risk of infections. Fever and clinical signs are considered as important indicators. The objectives of this study were to assess fever and clinical signs with neutropenia onset and/ or severity in solid cancer cases, using culture tests to determine the type of bacteria predominating, whether gram positive or gram negative.
METHODS: This observational retrospective study was conducted on files of all solid cancer patients who admitted to a general hospital between 1 January 2003 and 31 December 2006. All data were categorical and analyzed for association with neutropenia.
RESULTS: 117 neutropenic patients were studied, 83 (70.9%) of them suffering from fever ranging between 38.5-39 °C, with hypotension (53; 27.3%) and headache 51 (26.3%) as the most common clinical signs. Only 34 (29.1%) neutropenic patients underwent culture testing and only 14 (41.2%) showed positive growth, gram negative types predominating (9; 64.2%), mainly Escherichia coli (5; 35.7%), with gram positive only in 5 (35.7%). Significant associations were found for fever and clinical signs with neutropenia severity (P<0.05), but not neutropenia onset (P>0.05). Logistic regression results showed strong significant association between presence of fever (P=0.02, OR=1.3) (95% confidence interval (CI)) hypotension and headache (P=0.001, OR=1.148) (95% CI) with neutropenia severity.
CONCLUSION: Fever and clinical signs specifically headache and hypotension are symptoms associated with severe neutropenia in solid cancer patients. Both may primarily result from bacterial infection, particularly gram negative forms.

PMID: 21198276 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]