Journal Article

Oral versus intravenous antibiotic treatment for febrile neutropenia in cancer patients: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials

Liat Vidal, Mical Paul, Itsik Ben dor, Karla Soares-Weiser and Leonard Leibovici

in Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy

Published on behalf of British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy

Volume 54, issue 1, pages 29-37
Published in print July 2004 | ISSN: 0305-7453
Published online July 2004 | e-ISSN: 1460-2091 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jac/dkh303
Oral versus intravenous antibiotic treatment for febrile neutropenia in cancer patients: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials

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Context: Neutropenia is one of the grave consequences of cancer chemotherapy, and the treatment of neutropenic febrile patients with intravenous (iv) antibiotics has been shown to reduce mortality. Oral therapy could be an alternative approach for selected patients.

Objectives: To compare the efficacy of oral antibiotics versus iv antibiotic therapy in febrile neutropenic cancer patients.

Data sources: The Cochrane Library, the Cochrane Cancer Network Register of trials, EMBASE, LILACS and MEDLINE, databases for ongoing trials and the conference proceedings of the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC).

Study selection: Randomized controlled trials comparing oral antibiotic/s and iv antibiotic/s for the treatment of neutropenic cancer patients with fever.

Data collection: Two reviewers independently assessed trial eligibility, methodological quality and extracted all data. Data concerning mortality, treatment failures and adverse events were drawn from included studies assuming an ‘intention-to-treat’ and ‘per-protocol’ basis for the outcome measures whenever possible. Relative risks (RR) with their 95% confidence intervals (CI) for dichotomous data were estimated.

Main results: Fifteen trials (median mortality 0, range 0%–8.8%) were included in the analyses. The mortality rate was similar comparing oral and iv antibiotic treatment (RR 0.83, 95% CI 0.49–1.41, 2224 patients). Treatment failure rates were also similar (RR 0.94, 95% CI 0.84–1.05, 15 trials). No significant heterogeneity was shown for the primary outcomes. This effect was stable in a wide range of patients. Quinolones alone or combined with other antibiotics were used with comparable results. Adverse reactions, mostly gastrointestinal, were more common with oral antibiotics.

Conclusions: Oral antibiotics may be safely offered to neutropenic patients with fever who are at low risk for mortality.

Keywords: neutropenic patients; antimicrobial drugs; fever

Journal Article.  4766 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medical Oncology ; Critical Care

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