Invasive fungal infections in pediatric oncology patients: 11-year experience at a single institution

J Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 2005 Mar;27(3):135-40. doi: 10.1097/


The purpose of this study was to determine the incidence of fungal infections in pediatric hematology and oncology (PHO) patients and to describe variations regarding site of infection, organisms, and mortality. The records of 1,052 patients presenting to the UCLA PHO service with various malignancies from 1991 to 2001 were retrospectively reviewed. No patient received invasive antifungal prophylaxis. Transplant patients were excluded. The 11-year incidence of fungal infections in this pediatric oncology cohort was 4.9%. There was a linear increase in the incidence of fungal infections from 2.9% to 7.8% between 1996 and 2001 (P = 0.001). Patients with acute leukemia represented 36% of the population but had a disproportionate incidence (67%) of fungal infections. Adolescents had twice the expected incidence of infection (P < 0.0001). Overall, Candida sp. was the major pathogen. Over time, a trend of fewer infections caused by Candida and more due to Aspergillus was noted. Blood-borne infections decreased over time, while those in the urinary and respiratory tracts increased (P = 0.04). Sixty-two percent of infections occurred in neutropenic patients. PHO patients had an overall mortality of 21%, but those with fungal infections experienced a 2.6-fold higher mortality that was not attributable to infections alone. Empiric antifungal therapy had no effect on mortality rates. Concurrent nonfungal infections did not increase mortality rates. The incidence of fungal infections increased over time, possibly as a result of advances in antibacterial and chemotherapeutic regimens. Adolescents and patients with leukemia were especially at risk. Fungal infections are a poor prognostic factor, independent of fungal-related mortality. New diagnostic methods allowing for early detection and treatment as well as more effective therapies are needed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antifungal Agents / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / complications*
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / mortality
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Mycoses / complications*
  • Mycoses / epidemiology*
  • Mycoses / therapy
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Antifungal Agents