Management of febrile neutropenia in the era of bacterial resistance

Ther Adv Infect Dis. 2013 Feb;1(1):37-43. doi: 10.1177/2049936113475610.


Managing cancer patients with fever and neutropenia must be considered as a medical emergency since any delay in initiating appropriate empirical antibacterial therapy may result in high rates of mortality and morbidity. Emerging antibacterial resistance in bacterial pathogens infecting febrile neutropenic patients complicates management, and choosing the type of empirical antimicrobial therapy has become a challenge. To further complicate the decision process, not all neutropenic patients are in same category of susceptibility to develop severe infection. While low-risk patients may be treated with oral antibiotics in the outpatient setting, high-risk patients usually need to be admitted to hospital and receive parenteral broad-spectrum antibiotics until the neutrophil levels recover. These strategies have recently been addressed in two international guidelines from the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and the European Conference on Infections in Leukaemia (ECIL). This review gives a brief overview of current antimicrobial resistance problems and their effects in febrile neutropenic cancer patients by summarizing the suggestions from the IDSA and ECIL guidelines.

Keywords: bacterial resistance; empirical antibiotic therapy; febrile neutropenia.

Publication types

  • Review