Background: Although patients with malignant diseases are at increased risk for bloodstream infections (BSIs), limited data are available for those with solid tumors.
Patients and methods: The etiology, clinical features and outcome of BSIs were retrospectively studied in patients with solid tumors treated at the Department of Medical Oncology at the University Hospital of Heraklion, Greece, from November 1995 through June 2000.
Results: A total of 157 episodes of BSIs was identified among 137 patients over the study period. The majority of the episodes (128; 82%) occurred in non-neutropenic patients. 80 of 157 (51%) of the episodes were healthcare-associated, 35% (55 of 157) were nosocomial and 14% (22 of 157) were community acquired. A single pathogen was isolated in 86% of the episodes. A total of 184 pathogens was isolated (51% gram-negative rods, 44% gram-positive cocci, 3% anaerobes and 3% fungi), while the portal of entry was identified in 104 of 157 (66%) of the episodes. The site of the primary tumor or the metastases were the source of BSI in 39 of 104 (37.5%) of the episodes with an identified source. The overall infectious mortality was 20% and was significantly higher when the initial empirical antibiotic therapy was inappropriate (39%; p < 0.001) and in the presence of shock (63%; p < 0.001).
Conclusion: BSIs in patients with solid tumors are frequently healthcare associated and in a large percentage the portal of entry can be identified. Neutropenia is not as common as in patients with hematologic malignancies. Inappropriate initial empirical antibiotic therapy and shock are clinical factors associated with worse outcomes.