Antibiotics in Oncology

Cancer patients develop neutropenia, a decrease in the subset of leucocytes responsible for protection against bacteria, as a result of chemotherapy or cancer. Neutropenia predisposes the patients to severe bacterial infections. Standard antibiotic regimens for cancer patients with neutropenia and fever are directed at most of the bacteria that can cause infections. However, a subset of resistant bacteria belonging to the gram-positive group (Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococci) remain untreated unless specific antibiotics are added to the treatment. For patients receiving chemotherapy, there is an increased risk of infection due to a low white blood cell count (neutropenia) caused by a toxic effect of chemotherapy on the bone marrow. Antibiotic prophylaxis significantly decreased the risk of death when compared to no intervention. Antibiotic prophylaxis also decreased the risk of death from infection and the risk of development of fever.

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