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Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 2007 Jul-Aug;24(5):343-54.

Trends in infections in children with malignant disease in 2000: comparison of data of 1980/81.

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Department of Pediatric Oncology, Hematology and Immunology, Heinrich-Heine-University, Düsseldorf, Germany.


Children with cancer have an overall chance of survival of 70-80%. Despite significant advances in supportive care during the last years, infections remain a major cause of therapy-associated morbidity and death. Between January and December 2000, oncology patients (ONC) treated on a pediatric oncology ward after chemotherapy (n = 109), loco-regional thermochemotherapy (n = 13), or hematopoietic stem cell (HSCT) transplantation (n = 35) suffered a total of 249 febrile infectious complications (HSCT 40/ONC 209). These episodes were analyzed retrospectively and compared with 125 ONC patients with 133 febrile infections in 1980/81. The relative incidence of fever of unknown origin (FUO) decreased from 1980/81 to 2000 (p <.001). The frequency of bloodstream infections (BSI) in febrile episodes was comparable in both periods with 37% (50/135) in 1980 and 29% (72/249) in 2000. In both periods, gram-positive bacteria were the most frequent organisms, whereas gram-negative organisms were detected in approximately 20% of BSI. In 1980/81 microbiologically (MDI) or clinically documented infections (CDI) were not detected, whereas in 2000 27% of all infectious were MDI/CDI. During the last 20 years, improved diagnostic tools have resulted in an increased detection rate of infectious agents causing febrile episodes in pediatric cancer patients. The comparison of the two observation periods did not reveal a change in the microbiologic spectrum. Despite the fact that in 2000 more patients were treated with intensified chemotherapy because of relapse, infection-related mortality was unchanged compared to 1980/81. This observation may indicate a sufficient preemptive antibacterial therapy followed by better diagnostic tools and goal-oriented treatment.

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