Background: The prognostic effect of neutropenia in cancer patients admitted to intensive care units (ICUs) was addressed exclusively in cohort studies with conflicting results. Our aim was to address this question using a matched case-control study.
Patients and methods: Ninety-four neutropenic patients and 94 non-neutropenic controls were matched for age, cancer type, Simplified Acute Physiology Score II, Sequential Organ Failure Assessment score, and need for mechanical ventilation and vasopressors. Conditional logistic regression was used to identify factors associated with hospital mortality.
Results: The ICU (66% versus 66%, P = 0.999) and hospital (73% versus 78%, P = 0.611) mortality rates were similar in neutropenic and non-neutropenic patients. Adjusting for the type of admission and length of hospital stay before ICU admission, the characteristics associated with increased mortality were the severity of acute disease and organ failures, compromised performance status and sepsis diagnosis. The impact of both previous chemotherapy and neutropenia on the outcomes was not significant.
Conclusions: Using a matched case-control study design, our results provide additional evidence that the presence of neutropenia is no longer associated with worse outcomes in critically ill patients with cancer. Moreover, our results also corroborate that recent exposure to chemotherapy is not associated with increased risk for death.