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Ann Oncol. 2010 Dec;21(12):2333-41. doi: 10.1093/annonc/mdq254. Epub 2010 May 28.

Severe novel influenza A (H1N1) infection in cancer patients.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesia, Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil.



The natural history and consequences of severe H1N1 influenza infection among cancer patients are not yet fully characterized. We describe eight cases of H1N1 infection in cancer patients admitted to the intensive care unit of a referral cancer center.


Clinical data from all patients admitted with acute respiratory failure due to novel viral H1N1 infection were reviewed. Lung tissue was submitted for viral and bacteriological analyses by real-time RT-PCR, and autopsy was conducted on all patients who died.


Eight patients were admitted, with ages ranging from 55 to 65 years old. There were five patients with solid organ tumors (62.5%) and three with hematological malignancies (37.5%). Five patients required mechanical ventilation and all died. Four patients had bacterial bronchopneumonia. All deaths occurred due to multiple organ failure. A milder form of lung disease was present in the three cases who survived. Lung tissue analysis was performed in all patients and showed diffuse alveolar damage in most patients. Other lung findings were necrotizing bronchiolitis or extensive hemorrhage.


H1N1 viral infection in patients with cancer can cause severe illness, resulting in acute respiratory distress syndrome and death. More data are needed to identify predictors of unfavorable evolution in these patients.

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