Objectives: Infections are the major cause of morbidity and mortality in patients with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). They primarily occur during the first course of induction chemotherapy and may increase the risk of leukaemia relapse, due to a significant delay in consolidation therapy. The intensification of induction chemotherapy and the use of non-conventional drugs such as fludarabine are considered responsible for the increased risk of infections. Methods: In this study, we retrospectively analysed the infections occurred in 224 newly diagnosed AML patients ≤65 yr, consecutively treated between 1997 and 2002 with an induction regimen including fludarabine, arabinosyl cytosine and idarubicin, with or without etoposide (FLAI/FLAIE), in the context of three multicentric prospective trials (AML97, AML99, AML02). Results: During the induction phase, 146 (65%) patients experienced fever of undetermined origin (FUO), 30 (13%) and 47 (21%) patients had Gram-negative and positive bacteremias, respectively, and 10 (4%) patients developed a probable/proven invasive fungal infection (IFI). The fatality rate for Gram-negative, Gram-positive bacteremias and probable/proven IFI was 10%, 8% and 60% respectively. During consolidation, 75 (35%) patients had FUO, 43 (20%) and 40 (19%) patients had Gram-negative and positive bacteremias, respectively, and 5 (2%) patients developed a probable/proven IFI. The fatality rate for Gram-negative, Gram-positive bacteremias and probable/proven IFI was 14%, 5% and 80% respectively. Interestingly, the overall incidence of microbiologically documented infections during induction was 38% and the incidence of probable/proven IFIs during the induction/consolidation programme was 7%. No infections caused by viruses or opportunistic pathogens were observed neither during induction, nor during consolidation. Conclusions: These data, although retrospectively collected, suggest that fludarabine-based chemotherapy is not associated with an increased incidence of infections, in particular IFIs, compared to conventional regimens commonly used for AML induction.
- Acute leukaemia
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