European Journal of Haematology vol:78 issue:4 pages:275-282
OBJECTIVE: Patients with hematologic malignancies are at substantial risk of developing invasive fungal infections (IFI) that are associated with substantial morbidity and mortality. This article reviews the epidemiology, risk factors, and efficacy of antifungal prophylaxis in patients with hematologic malignancies. METHODS: A PubMed search was conducted to identify relevant studies with special emphasis on meta-analyses and direct comparisons between antifungal agents. RESULTS: The epidemiology of IFI has changed substantially in recent years with Candida albicans becoming less common owing to the widespread prophylactic use of azole antifungals. Invasive aspergillosis, fusariosis, and zygomycosis have increased in frequency. This change is at least partly related to the use of broad-spectrum antifungal agents, either as prophylaxis or as empirical treatment. Other risk factors for IFI include prior fungal exposure, immunosuppression, underlying disease, graft-vs.-host disease, and organ dysfunction. Inconsistent results have been reported in studies evaluating the efficacy of antifungal prophylaxis in patients at risk of IFI. Meta-analyses found that antifungals, such as fluconazole and itraconazole, are effective in decreasing IFI and IFI-related mortality, primarily owing to yeast infections in patients with more severe immunosuppression (i.e. patients undergoing bone marrow transplantation), but do not decrease the overall mortality. The European Conference on Infections in Leukemia (ECIL) guidelines currently recommend fluconazole (AI, ie. strongly recommended, based on at least 1 well-executed, randomized trial) and itraconazole (BI, ie. generally recommended, based on at least 1 well-executed, randomized trial) in allogeneic transplant recipients. Posaconazole, a triazole antifungal, has been recently shown to decrease IFI incidence and overall mortality in some high-risk patients compared with standard azoles. Based on preliminary data, a provisional AI ECIL recommendation has been given. CONCLUSIONS: Because of the substantial morbidity and mortality associated with IFI, there is a need to accurately define patient groups at greatest risk of IFI and, when appropriate, to initiate effective antifungal prophylaxis.