Infections in Leukemia

Infections in Leukemia


Rekha Chandran, Morgan Hakki and Stephen Spurgeon




Intech Open Access




Despite significant advances in supportive care, infectious complications continue to be a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in leukemia patients. The implementation of empiric antibiotic therapy in febrile neutropenia led to dramatic reduction in mortality and was hailed as a turning point in cancer treatment [1]. Nonetheless, the development of more effective and dose intensive salvage chemotherapy regimens, incorporation of monoclonal antibodies, use of consolidation and maintenance strategies, and increased use of indwelling venous catheters have increased susceptibility to infections and changed the spectrum of infections in patients with leukemia [1]. Specifically, multidrug resistant organisms, as well as those previously considered innocuous have emerged. Even under the optimal circumstances i.e. timely diagnosis and implementation of appropriate therapy, infections in leukemia remain a therapeutic challenge. Furthermore, delayed recognition and/or poor implementation of the appropriate treatment strategy can lead to significant morbidity and mortality while potentially increasing the economic burden associated with the infections seen in this immunocompromised population. Therefore, it is imperative that clinicians caring for this vulnerable group of patients have a thorough understanding of the infectious complications associated with leukemia and leukemia directed therapy.