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Clin Infect Dis. 2003 Aug 1;37(3):359-64. Epub 2003 Jul 22.

Listeriosis in patients at a comprehensive cancer center, 1955-1997.

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Infectious Diseases Service, Department of Medicine, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, New York, USA.


Listeria monocytogenes infection occurred in 94 patients during 1955-1997 at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. The incidence was 0.5 (1955-1966), 0.96 (1970-1979), and 0.14 (1985-1997) cases per 1000 new admissions. Eighty-five patients (90%) were bacteremic, and 34 (36%) had evidence of intracranial infection. In 91 patients with cancer, 70 (77%) received chemotherapy for advanced or relapsed malignancy (n=51; 56%); 64 (68%) received corticosteroids. Breast cancer was the most common solid-organ cancer (n=14; 45%), and 34 (36%) had preexisting advanced liver disease. In 14 (39%) of 37 patients who died of listeriosis, death occurred within 48 h of L. monocytogenes isolation. Four (80%) of 5 patients with extracranial foci of infection died of their infection, compared with 33 (37%) of 89 patients with isolated bacteremia and/or intracranial infection (odds ratio, 2.34; P=.05). Most infections (60%) were due to L. monocytogenes serotype 1/2, and the remainder (40%) were due to serovar 4b. Listeriosis in these patients with cancer occurred most often in individuals receiving antineoplastic therapy for advanced or relapsed malignancy and systemic corticosteroids. The presence of advanced liver disease may have increased the risk of systemic listeriosis in susceptible patients with underlying cancer.

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