Fever/Clinical Signs and Association with Neutropenia in Solid Cancer Patients - Bacterial Infection as the Main Cause


Introduction: Neutropenia remains one of the serious side effects of chemotherapeutics drugs making cancerpatients face serious risk of infections. Fever and clinical signs are considered as important indicators. Theobjectives of this study were to assess fever and clinical signs with neutropenia onset and/ or severity in solidcancer cases, using culture tests to determine the type of bacteria predominating, whether gram positive or gramnegative.
Methods: This observational retrospective study was conducted on files of all solid cancer patientswho admitted to a general hospital between 1 January 2003 and 31 December 2006. All data were categoricaland analyzed for association with neutropenia. .
Results: 117 neutropenic patients were studied, 83 (70.9%) ofthem suffering from fever ranging between 38.5-39 °C, with hypotension (53; 27.3%) and headache 51 (26.3%)as the most common clinical signs. Only 34 (29.1%) neutropenic patients underwent culture testing and only14 (41.2%) showed positive growth, gram negative types predominating (9; 64.2%), mainly Escherichia coli (5;35.7%), with gram positive only in 5 (35.7%). Significant associations were found for fever and clinical signswith neutropenia severity (P<0.05), but not neutropenia onset (P>0.05). Logistic regression results showed strongsignificant association between presence of fever (P=0.02, OR=1.3) (95% confidence interval (CI)) hypotensionand headache (P=0.001, OR=1.148) (95% CI) with neutropenia severity.
Conclusion: Fever and clinical signsspecifically headache and hypotension are symptoms associated with severe neutropenia in solid cancer patients.Both may primarily result from bacterial infection, particularly gram negative forms.