July 11, 1980

The Management of Infection in the Cancer Patient

Author Affiliations

From the Clinical Oncology Branch, Baltimore Cancer Research Program, Division of Cancer Treatment, National Cancer Institute, and the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore.

JAMA. 1980;244(2):185-187. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03310020055033

INFECTION is a leading cause of death in patients with cancer, especially those with hematologic malignant neoplasms such as leukemia and lymphoma. It therefore follows that control of infection will not only reduce suffering among such patients but will, in fact, extend life in these patients who represent a variety of compromised hosts.

Infection Prevention  The most important step in control of infection in the cancer patient is prevention. Cancer patients are at risk for infection by a variety of organisms, including normal flora found in the patients' internal (alimentary and respiratory tracts) environment and those acquired organisms found in the external (air, food, and water) environment. A number of expensive yet effective devices (laminar air-flow room) have been developed to allow complete reverse isolation of the compromised host, including provision of essentially sterile air.1,2 However, the initial expense and the operating costs of such units have made them