Background: We treated low-risk febrile neutropenic cancer patients utilizing two standard outpatient antibiotic pathways: oral ampicillin/clavulanate (500 mg) and ciprofloxacin (500 mg) or intravenous ceftazidime (2 g) and clindamycin (600 mg) every 8 h. The objectives were to determine the success of outpatient treatment of low-risk febrile neutropenia, to identify factors predicting outpatient failure, and to determine mortality related to the febrile episode.
Methods: Eligibility criteria included solid tumor diagnosis, stable vital signs, temperature > or =38.0 degrees C, absolute neutrophil count (ANC) of <1000/ml, patient compliance, no significant organ dysfunction, ability to tolerate oral medication and fluids for oral pathway, residence within 30 miles of the institution, 24-h caregiver, and telephone and transportation access.
Results: There were 257 febrile episodes in 191 patients meeting the criteria. Patients were treated during March 1998 through February 2000. Median age was 48 (range, 17-77) years, and 60% (n = 153) had an entry ANC of <100/ml; 205 (80%) febrile episodes successfully responded to outpatient treatment, and 52 (20%) were hospitalized. Logistic regression analysis showed the following were related to hospitalization: mucositis >grade 2 (p < 0.002); Zubrod performance status > or =2 (p = 0.029); ANC <100/ml (p = 0.039), and age > or =70 years (p = 0.048).
Conclusions: Outpatient treatment of low-risk febrile neutropenic cancer patients utilizing standard treatment pathways is associated with minimal morbidity and mortality and should be considered an acceptable standard of care with appropriate infrastructure available to provide strict and careful follow-up while on treatment. Certain factors are associated with higher risk of hospitalization and should be further examined in eligible patients with low-risk febrile neutropenia.