Background: In children with cancer, invasive fungal infection is a serious complication of anticancer therapy. Successful treatment is a major challenge for clinical oncologists. Methods: The records of all episodes of invasive fungal infection occurring in children with cancer undergoing chemotherapy at Mackay Memorial Hospital, Taipei between January 1987 and October 2005 were reviewed. The following were documented: general characteristics, clinical presentation, predisposing factors, pathogens, antifungal treatment, association with anticancer therapy and outcome. We endeavoured to preserve renal function by administration of new antifungal agents. Anticancer therapy was given as soon as possible after diagnosis and the dose of chemotherapeutic agents was adjusted as required to prevent unduly prolonged interruption of chemotherapy and minimise the risk of leukaemia relapse. Results: Twenty-six patients with 29 episodes of invasive fungal infection were reviewed. Candida species were the leading pathogens (14/ 29) followed by Aspergillus species (11/29). In six episodes there was both visceral dissemination and fungaemia. In 23/29 patients, antibiotic therapy preceded fungal infection with a median of 11 days. Three children died from extensive fungal infection and four from progression of malignancy; the remainder survived with a median follow-up of 40 months (range 12-233). The actuarial 12-month survival rate was 87%; in patients with invasive candidiasis and aspergillosis the rates were 75% and 100%, respectively. Conclusions: In children with cancer, most invasive fungal infections can be treated successfully. Current antifungal prophylaxis should protect patients from fungal infection.
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