Empiric single agent or combination antibiotic therapy for febrile episodes in neutropenic patients: An overview

G. J. Lieschke, D. Bell, W. Rawlinson, M. D. Green, W. Sheridan, G. Morstyn, R. Stuart-Harris, R. F. Kefford, J. Levi, T. Sorrell, R. M. Fox

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15 Citations (Scopus)


Febrile episodes during chemotherapy-induced neutropenia are a frequent cause of morbidity and mortality in cancer patients. Empiric antibiotic therapy commencing at the onset of fever is selected according to three principles: intravenous therapy is used to rapidly achieve bactericidal serum levels, antibiotics with appropriate antibacterial spectra are required, and combinations of antibiotics have been preferred for their synergistic activity. Initial empiric monotherapy with single antibiotics such as imipenem which have a sufficiently broad antibacterial spectrum in their own right are potentially as efficacious as conventional combination therapies. Granulocytopenic periods complicated by fever are significantly longer in patients receiving chemotherapy for leukaemia than in patients undergoing treatment for lymphoma and solid tumours. However, defervescence of fever following commencement of antibiotic therapy occurs equally rapidly in these three groups. The persistent granulocytopenia leaves leukaemic patients at greatest risk of breakthrough or second infections. These patients therefore appear to be the most likely to benefit from the clinical use of haemopoietic growth factors such as granulocyte and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S37-42
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer and Clinical Oncology
Issue numberSUPPL. 2
Publication statusPublished - 1989
Externally publishedYes


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