, Volume 21, Issue 10, pp 2861-2868
Date: 08 Jun 2013

Incidence and predictors of febrile neutropenia during chemotherapy in patients with head and neck cancer

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Febrile neutropenia (FN) is an oncologic emergency, and its management is critical during chemotherapy. However, little is known about FN in patients with head and neck cancer. The purpose of this study was to investigate the incidence and predictors of FN in patients with head and neck cancer.


We performed a retrospective study in a university hospital in Japan between January 2008 and December 2012. Head and neck cancer patients treated with a platinum-based regimen were included in the analysis.


FN occurred in 47 out of 138 cycles, and the incidence of FN was highest during the first cycle. Severe sepsis or more serious events were observed in 46 % of FN episodes. Patients treated with TPF (docetaxel, cisplatin, and fluorouracil) were more susceptible to FN than those treated with DC (docetaxel, cisplatin). The patient-specific risk factors revealed using univariate analysis were tube feeding, the presence of diabetes mellitus, and gastrointestinal adverse effects. Of these, logistic regression analysis demonstrated tube feeding and diabetes mellitus as independent predictors of FN.


The incidence of FN in head and neck cancer patients in the community setting is higher than previously reported. Patients receiving enteral nutrition and those with diabetes are at high risk for FN.