Practical modalities for prevention of fungal infections in cancer patients

  • B. E. De Pauw


Invasive fungal infections have become a major obstacle to the treatment of patients with malignancies. Candida spp. and Aspergillus spp. now rank among the ten most prominent pathogens in these patients. Currently, there are no adequate means of detecting these infections at an early stage, and optimal hygiene and elimination of well-known sources of infection remain the most important preventive measures. Due to the lack of reliable, randomized studies, the role of antifungal drugs in the prevention of invasive fungal infections is difficult to judge. The clinical impact of the older oral antifungal agents is questionable, and compliance with therapeutic regimens of these drugs is often limited. In prospective studies in bone marrow transplant recipients, fluconazole was effective in preventing candidiasis but offered no prophylaxis against infections due to Aspergillus spp. and other molds. Initial trials on the use of sprays and aerosols of amphotericin B and on infusions of low doses of this drug appeared beneficial, but the number of patients included was too small to allow any definite conclusion. Itraconazole offers promise, but it can only be given orally; adequate, reliable absorption is not yet guaranteed. While the lack of data justifies a wait-and-see approach in patients at low or moderate risk of developing a fungal infection, it seems reasonable to administer prophylaxis to high-risk patients, even though there is presently no single agent suitable for all prophylactic purposes.


Fungal Infection Amphotericin Fluconazole Itraconazole Candidiasis 
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Copyright information

© MMV Medizin Verlag GmbH 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. E. De Pauw
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of HematologyUniversity Hospital NijmegenNijmegenThe Netherlands

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