Infections in Children With Cancer: The Role of the Presence or Absence of Neutropenia

Pediatr Emerg Care. 2021 Mar 1;37(3):155-160. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0000000000002360.


BACKGROUND: Infections in patients with cancer are a major cause of morbidity and mortality. In most cases, the presence of neutropenia renders them prone to infections to either common or opportunistic pathogens. A wide spectrum of bacterial, viral, or fungal agents is encountered in these patients.

AIM: The aim of this study was to evaluate infection types and pathogens in pediatric patients with cancer with and without neutropenia.

METHODS: A total of 37 pediatric patients with cancer (median age ± 25% quartile, 6.0 ± 2.0% years) with 70 febrile episodes were evaluated at fever's onset and 48 hours later with complete blood count, C-reactive protein, cultures of biological fluids, polymerase chain reaction, and antibody titers.

RESULTS: Of 70 infections, 30 (42.85%) were bacterial, 13 (18.57%) were viral, 3 (4.28%) were fungal, 16 (22.85%) were fever of unknown origin, 18 (25.71%) were opportunistic, and 12 (17.14%) were mixed infections. Neutropenia was detected in 42 (60.0%) of 70 febrile episodes, mainly in patients with hematological malignancies [odds ratio, 2.81 (0.96-8.22); P = 0.059]. Neutropenic patients had higher prevalence of mucocutaneous infections (47.6% vs 7.14%; P = 0.004). Herpes simplex virus 1 infections occurred only in the neutropenic group (14.3%).

CONCLUSIONS: Patients with cancer exhibited a high prevalence of bacterial (42.85%), opportunistic (25.7%), and mixed infections (17.14%). Patients with hematological malignancies and neutropenia presented higher frequency of mucocutaneous and herpes simplex virus 1 infections than the nonneutropenic ones.

PMID:33651759 | DOI:10.1097/PEC.0000000000002360