Up to 25% of patients with profound neutropenia lasting for >10 days develop lung infiltrates, which frequently do not respond to broad-spectrum antibacterial therapy. While a causative pathogen remains undetected in the majority of cases, Aspergillus spp., Pneumocystis jirovecii, multi-resistant Gram-negative pathogens, mycobacteria or respiratory viruses may be involved. In at-risk patients who have received trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP/SMX) prophylaxis, filamentous fungal pathogens appear to be predominant, yet commonly not proven at the time of treatment initiation. Pathogens isolated from blood cultures, bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) or respiratory secretions are not always relevant for the etiology of pulmonary infiltrates and should therefore be interpreted critically. Laboratory tests for detecting Aspergillus galactomannan, β-D-glucan or DNA from blood, BAL or tissue samples may facilitate the diagnosis; however, most polymerase chain reaction assays are not yet standardized and validated. Apart from infectious agents, pulmonary side-effects from cytotoxic drugs, radiotherapy or pulmonary involvement by the underlying malignancy should be included into differential diagnosis and eventually be clarified by invasive diagnostic procedures. Pre-emptive treatment with mold-active systemic antifungal agents improves clinical outcome, while other microorganisms are preferably treated only when microbiologically documented. High-dose TMP/SMX is first choice for treatment of Pneumocystis pneumonia, while cytomegalovirus pneumonia is treated primarily with ganciclovir or foscarnet in most patients. In a considerable number of patients, clinical outcome may be favorable despite respiratory failure, so that intensive care should be unrestrictedly provided in patients whose prognosis is not desperate due to other reasons.
Keywords: diagnosis; fever; lung infiltrates; neutropenia; pneumonia; treatment.
© The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Society for Medical Oncology.