Invasive fungal infections in acute leukemia

Ther Adv Hematol. 2011 Aug;2(4):231-47. doi: 10.1177/2040620711410098.

Abstract

Invasive fungal infection (IFI) is among the leading causes for morbidity, mortality, and economic burden for patients with acute leukemia. In the past few decades, the incidence of IFI has increased dramatically. The certainty of diagnosis of IFI is based on host factors, clinical evidence, and microbiological examination. Advancement in molecular diagnostic modalities (e.g. non-culture-based serum biomarkers such as β-glucan or galactomannan assays) and high-resolution radiological imaging has improved our diagnostic approach. The early use of these diagnostic tests assists in the early initiation of preemptive therapy. Nonetheless, the complexity of IFI in patients with leukemia and the limitations of these diagnostic tools still mandate astute clinical acumen. Its management has been further complicated by the increasing frequency of infection by non-Aspergillus molds (e.g. zygomycosis) and the emergence of drug-resistant fungal pathogens. In addition, even though the antifungal armamentarium has expanded rapidly in the past few decades, the associated mortality remains high. The decision to initiate antifungal treatment and the choice of anti-fungal therapy requires careful consideration of several factors (e.g. risk stratification, local fungal epidemiologic patterns, concomitant comorbidities, drug-drug interactions, prior history of antifungal use, overall cost, and the pharmacologic profile of the antifungal agents). In order to optimize our diagnostic and therapeutic management of IFI in patients with acute leukemia, further basic research and clinical trials are desperately needed.

Keywords: fungus; infection; leukemia; mold; yeast.