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Cancer Res Treat. 2011 Sep;43(3):176-80. doi: 10.4143/crt.2011.43.3.176. Epub 2011 Sep 30.

The usefulness of procalcitonin and C-reactive protein as early diagnostic markers of bacteremia in cancer patients with febrile neutropenia.

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  • 1Department of Emergency Medicine, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.



Procalcitonin (PCT) and C-reactive protein (CRP) are well known inflammatory markers. This study was designed to determine whether PCT and CRP are useful as early diagnostic markers for bacteremia in cancer patients with febrile neutropenia (FN) in the emergency department (ED).


In this retrospective study, 286 episodes of FN in the ED were consecutively included between June 2009 and August 2010. From medical records, clinical characteristics including PCT and CRP were extracted and analyzed.


Bacteremia was identified in 38 (13.3%) of the 286 episodes. The median values of PCT (2.8 ng/mL vs. 0.0 ng/mL, p=0.000) and CRP (15.9 mg/dL vs. 5.6 mg/dL, p=0.002) were significantly higher in the group with bacteremia compared to the group without bacteremia. In univariate analysis, elevated PCT (>0.5 ng/mL) and CRP (>10 mg/dL) as well as older age, hypotension, tachycardia, tachypnea, and high body temperature were significantly associated with bacteremia. On multivariate analysis, elevated PCT (>0.5 ng/mL) (odds ratio [OR], 3.6; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.4 to 9.2; p<0.01) and tachypnea (OR, 3.4; 95% CI, 1.4 to 8.5; p<0.01) were independent early diagnostic markers for bacteremia in FN patients. The area under the curve of PCT was 74.8% (95% CI, 65.1 to 84.6%) and that of CRP was 65.5% (95% CI, 54.8 to 76.1%). With a PCT cut-off value of 0.5 ng/mL, sensitivity and specificity were 60.5% and 82.3%, respectively, while the sensitivity and specificity were 57.6% and 67.3%, respectively, with a CRP cutoff of 10 mg/dL.


These findings suggest that PCT is a useful early diagnostic marker for the detection of bacteremia in FN at the ED and has better diagnostic value than CRP.


Bacteremia, Biomarkers, C-reactive protein, Neutropenia, Procalcitonin

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