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J Infect. 1998 Sep;37(2):173-80.

An EORTC multicentre prospective survey of invasive aspergillosis in haematological patients: diagnosis and therapeutic outcome. EORTC Invasive Fungal Infections Cooperative Group.

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Department of Medicine, University of Manchester, Hope Hospital, Salford, U.K.



The EORTC Invasive Fungal Infections Cooperative Group (IFICG) conducted a prospective survey by questionnaire of all cases of invasive aspergillosis (IA) in cancer patients to ascertain current diagnostic and therapeutic approaches.


All members of the IFICG were asked prospectively to complete a detailed questionnaire for each IA case identified in their institution over a 12-month period.


One hundred and thirty questionnaires were returned. All cases were independently evaluated (DWD & JC) and 123 were eligible. Cases came from 20 hospitals in eight countries and the number of cases per institution varied from 1-21. Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) (60, 49%), acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) (21, 17%) and lymphoma (11, 9%) were the most frequent underlying diseases, and 16 (12%) patients had received an allogeneic bone marrow transplant. Pulmonary involvement was present in 87%, infection of sinuses/nose in 16% and brain in 8%. The chest radiograph was initially normal in 9% of those with primary pulmonary disease. The diagnosis was confirmed in 50%, probable in 31% and possible in 19%. The evidence for IA was on the basis of clinical and radiological features alone in 28%, with culture or histology in another 31% and 9%, respectively, and with both culture and histology in 29%. In three (2%) patients with diagnosis was based on culture or histology alone. Treatment was given to 120 patients (98%)-amphotericin B 75%, lipid-associated amphotericin B 36%, itraconazole 40%, flucytosine 12%, growth factors 33%, lobectomy 5%. At 3 months after diagnosis or first suspicion of IA, 44 (36%) patients were alive and 79 (64%) dead. Outcome was best in those with AML (30% death and 46% with a complete antifungal response or cure). Growth factors (mostly granulocyte colony stimulating factor) appeared not to influence outcome (P = 0.99).


IA remains a considerable diagnostic and therapeutic challenge. No single diagnostic procedure was universally successful and a multifaceted approach including surgery is necessary. There was no discernable difference in outcome between initial therapy with amphotericin B, itraconazole or lipid-associated amphotericin B, although numbers are limited and the study was retrospective.

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