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Eur J Cancer Care (Engl). 2001 Mar;10(1):56-62.

Assessing risk factors for systemic fungal infections.

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Department of Hematology, University Hospital Gasthuisberg, Leuven, Belgium.


The incidence of invasive fungal infection has increased in recent years. Most infections are caused by Candida albicans and Aspergillus spp. but the emergence of other fungal infections is changing the spectrum of disease. Immunosuppression and breakdown of anatomical barriers such as the skin are the major risk factors for fungal infections. Health care workers encounter at-risk patients in various settings, including AIDS clinics and intensive care, transplantation and oncology units. Patients with prolonged and deep neutropenia (haematological malignancy patients) are most at risk and are therefore most likely to receive prophylactic therapy. Practical measures can be taken to avoid exposing the patient to fungi (air filtration, regular hand washing, avoiding plants and flowers) and antifungal agents can be administered to prevent systemic fungal infection. Most fungal infections have non-specific symptoms; this makes recognition of the signs and symptoms of the disease important but also makes diagnosis difficult and empirical treatment necessary. Some antifungal agents have limitations but new formulations will improve therapy and play a key role in future antifungal strategies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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