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Am J Hematol. 2001 Dec;68(4):231-6.

Invasive aspergillosis in haematological malignancies: clinical findings and management for intensive chemotherapy completion.

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  • 1Department of Haematology, Niguarda Ca' Granda Hospital, Milan, Italy.


Sixty-one cases of Aspergillus infection (35 acute myeloid leukemia, 15 acute lymphoid leukemia, one myelodysplastic syndrome, two aplastic anemia, eight non-Hodgkin's lymphoma) seen in our department between January 1989 and July 1999 were studied retrospectively to evaluate the clinical characteristics, to ascertain the factors that influenced the outcome from mycotic infections, and whether early diagnosis and prolonged therapy permitted completion of scheduled intensive chemotherapy and bone marrow transplantation (BMT) without fungal recurrence. The patients were divided into three diagnostic categories: proven aspergillosis (autoptic or histologic diagnosis) n = 39, probable aspergillosis (radiological diagnosis with positive microbiology) n = 9, and possible aspergillosis (radiological diagnosis alone) n = 13. In the same period among 675 acute leukemia patients the incidence of proven or probable aspergillosis was 7.1%. At onset of infection 92% of patients were neutropenic (< 0.5 x 10(9)/L). The most frequent site of infection was the lung (90%); disseminated disease was present in 20 patients. Among 44 assessable patients, 12 (27%) failed to respond to early antifungal therapy and died. Thirty-two patients were cured with antifungal treatment, three of five nonneutropenic with only itraconazole, the others with amphotericin B 1 mg/Kg/day with or without itraconazole subsequently or with liposomal amphotericin, Ambisome, if renal toxicity occurred. Twenty-four of 29 neutropenic responders, all affected by acute leukemia, continued scheduled intensive chemotherapies. Pulmonary lobectomy was successfully combined with medical treatment in two cases before scheduled BMT. After infection nine patients were submitted to BMT (six allo, one marrow unrelated donor (MUD), two auto) with Ambisome or itraconazole as secondary prophylaxis without fungal relapse (follow-up: 25-99 months). The median time from fungal infection to transplant was five months, range 3-10. Thirteen of 29 surviving patients had leukemia relapse, but only three (23%) of these showed also fungal infection recurrence. In conclusion, a high index of suspicion and careful clinical and radiological examinations are the key to identifying infected patients early and to programming the following therapeutic steps. Above all in leukemia patients, prompt and aggressive administration of antifungal agents seems to improve the outcome of invasive fungal disease and to permit intensive chemotherapy completion and transplant.

Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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