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Guidelines for Managing Fever & Neutropenia in Cancer Patients

Guidelines for Managing Fever & Neutropenia in Cancer Patients

Neutropenia, a common condition among cancer patients that is caused by low levels of neutrophils, can be caused by cancer itself or by the types of chemotherapy used. People with neutropenia are much more likely to develop infections when compared with those who have normal blood counts. Febrile neutropenia occurs when patients with neutropenia develop fevers, which are a sign of possible infection. Typically, febrile neutropenia is treated by immediately hospitalizing patients and providing them with intravenous antibiotics to prevent life-threatening complications, such as sepsis. Recent studies, however, suggest that select patients who are at low risk of complications related to febrile neutropenia may be eligible for outpatient treatment. The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has issued a clinical practice guideline update on the management of neutropenia with fever and for the prevention of related infections in cancer patients. ASCO also endorsed a related guideline for children with cancer. To develop these guidelines, an expert panel systematically reviewed evidence from relevant medical literature, including 47 seminal articles. “These guidelines are intended to help physicians identify patients at high risk of medical complications related to neutropenia with fever,” says Christopher R. Flowers, MD, MS, who co-chaired the ASCO expert panel that drafted the guideline for adults. “They also provide clarity on when preventive treatment for infection is needed.” Additionally, guidance is offered on managing select patients who can be managed safely at home during febrile neutropenia episodes. Hospitalizations & Assessing Risks According to Dr. Flowers, a priority of ASCO’s guidelines was to help clinicians identify patients with febrile neutropenia who do not require hospitalization. “The guideline will help spare...
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