Management of chemotherapy-induced febrile neutropenia in pediatric oncology patients: A North American survey of pediatric hematology/oncology and pediatric infectious disease physicians

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Abstract

Background

Chemotherapy-induced febrile neutropenia (FN) is traditionally managed with hospital admission for parenteral antibiotics until neutropenia resolves. Recent studies have explored risk stratification and the safety of managing “low-risk” patients as outpatients. Few studies have directly assessed pediatric provider preferences for managing FN.

Procedure

We conducted a survey of practicing US and Canadian pediatric hematology/oncology (PHO) and pediatric infectious disease (PID) physicians to assess their FN management preferences using case scenarios with varying risk profiles.

Results

Twenty-one percent (n = 186) of PHO and 32% (n = 123) of PID physicians completed the survey. Overall, both groups of providers agreed regarding which patients with FN could be managed outpatient. For a child with acute lymphoblastic leukemia receiving maintenance chemotherapy with an absolute neutrophil count (ANC) of 400 cells/μl, 35% (n = 66) of PHO and 49% (n = 60) of PID physicians would consider outpatient management (P = 0.02). Of those physicians selecting inpatient management, 41% (n = 49) of PHO and 52% (n = 33) of PID physicians would be willing to discharge the patient without an increase in ANC, if afebrile with a negative blood culture (P = 0.16). For a similar patient with an ANC of 100 cells/μl, only 23% (n = 35) of PHO and 42% (n = 39) of PID physicians would consider discharge without an increase in ANC (P = 0.002).

Conclusions

Despite the lack of established guidelines for low-risk pediatric FN, a significant proportion of North American physicians report willingness to modify traditional management. This reinforces the need for evidence-based low-risk criteria and outpatient management guidelines to optimize consistency of care for these patients.

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