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Pneumonia (Nathan). 2019 Jun 5;11:2. doi: 10.1186/s41479-019-0061-1. eCollection 2019.

Treatment of community-onset pneumonia in neutropenic cancer patients: β-lactam monotherapy versus combination antibiotic regimens.

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1Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Korea University Ansan Hospital, Ansan, Gyeonggi-do Republic of Korea.
2Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, 81 Irwon-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, 06351 Republic of Korea.
Department of Laboratory Medicine, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
Contributed equally



Although β-lactam monotherapy may be sufficient in non-critically ill patients with community-acquired pneumonia, the value of combination antibiotic regimens in community-onset neutropenic pneumonia remains unclear.


A retrospective cohort study was conducted to compare the effects of combination antibiotic regimens to those of β-lactam monotherapy in cancer patients with community-onset neutropenic pneumonia. Electronic medical records of patients diagnosed with community-onset neutropenic pneumonia between March 1995 and February 2015 at a tertiary care center were reviewed.


During the study period, 165 cancer patients with community-onset neutropenic pneumonia were identified. Seventy-two patients received β-lactam monotherapy and 93 received combination therapy (β-lactam plus either a macrolide or fluoroquinolone). Causative pathogens were identified in 27.9% of the patients, and only two were positive for atypical pathogens. Although 30-day mortality was higher in the β-lactam group (15.3% versus 4.3%; P = 0.015), combination therapy was not associated with a statistically significant survival benefit in the multivariate analysis (hazard ratio 0.85, 95% confidence interval 0.20-3.67; P = 0.827). Duration of neutropenia, C-reactive protein level, and Multinational Association for Supportive Care in Cancer risk index were significant factors for 30-day mortality. In a subgroup analysis of patients treated with cefepime, the most frequently used β-lactam (63.0%), combination therapy also showed no significant survival benefit.


Combination antibiotic regimens were not associated with a survival benefit over β-lactam monotherapy in the treatment of community-onset neutropenic pneumonia. Unnecessary combination therapy should be reconsidered in cancer patients who are at high risk for adverse drug reactions and colonization with multi-drug resistant organisms.


Cancer; Combination antibiotic regimens; Febrile neutropenia; Pneumonia

Conflict of interest statement

Competing interestsThe authors of this manuscript have conflicts of interest to disclose as described by BMC Infectious Diseases.

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