Infectious complications of advanced cancer

Jade Homsi, D. Walsh, Roshni Panta, Ruth Lagman, Kristine A. Nelson, David L. Longworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


We present a retrospective study of the frequency, pattern, and management of infections in advanced cancer. Three hundred ninety-three patients were admitted to an acute care palliative medicine unit in an 8-month period for evaluation and palliation of cancer-related symptoms and complications. One hundred fifteen had at least one positive bacteriological culture, and 100 of these patients were evaluable. One hundred fifty-two infections and 192 isolates were identified. Sixty-eight patients had polymicrobial infections. Sixty-six patients had urinary tract infections. Forty-one were found to have multisystemic infections. Eighty-one had invasive devices; 32 had more than one invasive device. Fifty-three were taking corticosteroids at the time of infection. Only 3 were neutropenic. Urinary tract infections were significantly more common in those taking corticosteroids. The median duration of antibiotic treatment was 11 days and the median hospital stay, 14 days. Twenty-eight patients died in the hospital; 10 of those who died had lung cancer, which was a statistically significant observation. In conclusion, infections are an underrecognized but common complication in nonneutropenic hospitalized patients with advanced solid tumors. Urinary tract infections appear to be associated with the use of corticosteroids. Lung cancer patients are at greater risk for fatal infections. Infections increase morbidity in debilitated patients with solid tumors, are a frequent cause of hospital admission, and are associated with significant mortality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)487-492
Number of pages6
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2000


  • Cancer
  • Infection
  • Palliative care
  • Solid tumor
  • Symptom management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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