Vaccine-Derived Immunity in Children With Cancer—Analysis of Anti-Tetanus and Anti-Diphtheria Antibodies Changes after Completion of Antineoplastic Therapy

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Cancer survival rates and longevity of patients after therapy have significantly improved during the last decades. Thus durable protection against infections should be provided. The aim of the study was to compare the levels of vaccine-derived antibodies in children with cancer compared to those of healthy children and to investigate how therapy influences the levels of specific antibodies.


A group of 40 children, diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) or solid tumor (ST), followed in Poznan University of Medical Sciences Department of Pediatric Hematology, Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplantation, were recruited for evaluation of humoral immunity. Antibody levels were checked before treatment and 3, 6, and 12 months after treatment.


In patients with ALL or ST, levels of IgG against tetanus and diphtheria were significantly lower than in the control group. Among ALL patients, 9% remained negative for tetanus and diphtheria antibodies 12 months after therapy. Among patients with ST 3 months after chemotherapy, there were no protective antibodies in 12% against tetanus, and in 18% against diphtheria. All patients reconstituted immunity 6 and 12 months after therapy.


Our data show that a considerable number of cancer patients lose immunity against diphtheria and tetanus after therapy. Compared to ST, patients with ALL lose protective antibody levels more often. Patients with ST reconstituted antibodies after the treatment cessation, while levels in ALL patients remained low. Pediatr Blood Cancer © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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