Objective: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of fluconazole for prevention of fungal infections.
Design: A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, multicenter trial.
Patients: Adults (257) undergoing chemotherapy for acute leukemia.
Intervention: Patients were randomly assigned to receive either fluconazole (400 mg orally once daily or 200 mg intravenously every 12 hours) or placebo. The study drug was started at initiation of chemotherapy and continued until recovery of neutrophil count, development of proven or suspected invasive fungal infection, or the occurrence of a drug-related toxicity.
Measurements: Fungal colonization, proven superficial or invasive fungal infection, empiric antifungal therapy with amphotericin B, drug-related side effects, and mortality.
Main results: Fluconazole decreased fungal colonization (83 of 122 [68%] placebo patients compared with 34 of 119 [29%] fluconazole patients colonized at end of prophylaxis, P < 0.001) and proven fungal infections (27 of 132 [21%] placebo patients compared with 11 of 123 [9%] fluconazole patients infected, P = 0.02). Superficial fungal infections occurred in 20 of 132 (15%) placebo patients but in only 7 of 123 (6%) fluconazole patients (P = 0.01), whereas invasive fungal infections developed in 10 of 132 (8%) placebo patients and in 5 of 123 (4%) fluconazole patients (P = 0.3). Fluconazole was especially effective in eliminating colonization and infection by Candida species other than Candida krusei (66 of 122 [64%] placebo patients colonized at end of prophylaxis compared with 11 of 119 [9%] fluconazole patients, P < 0.001; 22 of 132 [17%] placebo patients infected compared with 7 of 123 [6%] fluconazole patients, P = 0.005). Aspergillus infections were infrequent in both fluconazole (3 cases) and placebo groups (3 cases). The use of amphotericin B, the incidence of drug-related side effects, and overall mortality were similar in both study groups.
Conclusion: Prophylactic fluconazole prevents colonization and superficial infections by Candida species other than Candida krusei in patients undergoing chemotherapy for acute leukemia and is well tolerated. Fluconazole could not be clearly shown to be effective for preventing invasive fungal infections, reducing the use of amphotericin B, or decreasing the number of deaths.