Background. Invasive aspergillosis (IA) is a leading cause of mortality in patients with acute leukemia. Management of IA is expensive, which makes prevention desirable. Because hospital resources are limited, prevention costs have to be compared with treatment costs and outcome.
Methods. In 269 patients treated for acute myelogenous leukemia–myelodysplastic syndrome (AML–MDS) during 2002–2007, evidence of IA was collected using high–resolution computed tomography and galactomannan measurement in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid specimens. IA was classified on the basis of updated European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer/Mycoses Study Group definitions. Outcome of infection was registered. Diagnostic and therapeutic IA–related costs, corrected for neutropenia duration, were comprehensively analyzed from a hospital perspective. Voriconazole treatment was given orally from day 1 if possible.
Results. A total of 80 patients developed IA; 48 (18%) had probable or proven infection, and 32 (12%) had possible IA. Seventy–three patients were treated with voriconazole; 55 (75%) took oral voriconazole from day 1. In patients with IA, the mortality rate 12 weeks after starting antifungal therapy was 22% (16 of 73 patients). The overall mortality rate, registered 12 weeks after neutrophil recovery from the last dose of antileukemic treatment, was 26% in patients with IA versus 16% in patients without IA (P=.08), reflecting an IA–attributable mortality rate of 10%. In a Cox regression analysis, IA was associated with an increased mortality risk (hazard ratio, 2.4; 95% confidence interval, 1.3–4.4). Total IA–related costs increased to €8360 and €15,280 for patients with possible and probable or proven IA, respectively, compared with patients without IA (P<.001).
Conclusions. Early diagnosis and treatment of IA with oral voriconazole result in acceptable mortality rates. Nevertheless, IA continues to have substantial attributable mortality combined with a major impact on hospital resource use, so effective prevention in high–incidence populations has the potential to save lives and costs.