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July 1988

Varicella-Zoster Infection in Adult Cancer Patients: A Population Study

Author Affiliations

From the Toronto-Bayview Regional Cancer Center (Dr Rusthoven), and the Princess Margaret Hospital, Toronto (Drs Ahlgren and Feld, and Mss Elhakim, Pinfold, Reid, and Stewart). Dr Rusthoven is now with Hamilton Regional Cancer Center, Hamilton, Ontario.

Arch Intern Med. 1988;148(7):1561-1566. doi:10.1001/archinte.1988.00380070065016

• In a retrospective review of varicella-zoster (V-Z) infections In adult cancer patients, 766 episodes of V-Z infection were studied among 740 patients seen at a large comprehensive cancer center from 1972 to 1980. The highest risk of infection was present among patients with lymphoma and leukemia. The risk of dissemination of V-Z Infection was significantly associated with the presence of active tumor at the time of infection. The site of the primary tumor correlated with the site of subsequent zoster infection among patients with breast cancer, cancer of the respiratory tract, and gynecologic cancer. Pain attributable to V-Z Infection was present in a large majority of episodes. The median time from the completion of therapy to the onset of infection was seven months for patients receiving radiotherapy and less than one month for those receiving chemotherapy. Various attributes of this study group were compared with those of previously studied cancer and noncancer populations.

(Arch Intern Med 1988;148:1561-1566)