Infections are the main complication for patients with hematologic diseases and severe neutropenia and among them fungal infections are the most diffucult to treat and a major cause of mortality for these patients. Now we have a new antifungal class, Echinocandins which work with a new and different mechanism of action regarding azoles and amphotericin B, so we wanted to verify the tolerability and efficacy of Caspofungin (Caspo). From January 2004 until now we have treated 15 consecutive oncohemopatic and neutropenic patients admitted at our Institution. The schedule of treatment was: in case of persistent fever (at least 4 days) during broad spectrum antibiotic therapy a high-resolution CT-scan of the lungs, an abdomen US-scan, swabs from pharynx, nose and rectum and blood cultures were performed. In case of positivity of one or more of these findings suggesting for invasive fungal disease, Caspofungin was administered at the dosage of 70 mg i.v. on the first day and 50 mg i.v. from the second day; the infusion time was 1 hour. The patients were 10 males and 5 females, the mean age was 46 yrs (range 19-60 yrs). The diagnoses were: acute myeloid leukemia 8, acute lymphoblastic leukemia 3, lymphoma 4; the disease's phases were: onset 3, first remission 3, remission>I 2, partial remission 5, relapse 1, resistant 1. Two patients received an allogeneic BMT, 1 an autologous BMT, the other patients an induction or consolidation or rescue chemotherapy course. In four cases Caspo was administered as secondary prophylaxis of a previous invasive fungal infection while for the other patients Caspo was administered for persistent fever and at least one lesion of the lungs or other organs with no evidence of bacterial or viral infection. The mean time of treatment was 18 days (range 6-21 days); the treatment was not discontinued for anyone of them because of adverse events; the dosage of Caspo was not changed for anyone. For the 2 allogeneic BMT Cyclosporine A administration was not changed and we did not found any renal or liver alterations. All the patients received a concomitant broad spectrum antibiotic therapy (association of Tazobactam/Piperacilline, Amikacine and Vancomycin) and for none of them we registered any liver or renal disfunction. No adverse events during the infusion of Caspo were seen and it was not necessary to administer any drug before the infusion. We did not seen breakthrough fungal infections. In 2 patients a proven fungal infection (Aspergillus fumigatus and Aspergillus spp) was demonstrated so the other cases remained probable or possible infections. No progression of the infection was seen. All the infections, except one, resolved; one patient died after 6 days of antifungal treatment for leukemia progression. Five patients died: 4 for leukemia and 1 for bacterial infection (Pseudomonas aeruginosa) after the fungal infection. In conclusion now we have a new treatment option for fungal infections in neutropenic patients and this option is safe, it does not preclude any other treatment (such as CsA), it is well tolerated and the resolution rate of the infections is very high, probably because of the new mechanism of action of the drug. Moreover the cost of the drug is lower than other antifungal treatments. According to these preliminary data we have decided to continue this experience to verify them in a larger cohort of patients.
Full conference title:
47th American Society for Haematology
- ASH 47th (2005)