Cefepime versus ceftazidime as empiric monotherapy for fever and neutropenia in children with cancer

Yu-Yu Chuang, Iou-Jih Hung, Chao-Ping Yang, Tang-Her Jaing, Tzou-Yien Lin, Yhu-Chering Huang
Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal 2002, 21 (3): 203-9

BACKGROUND: Monotherapy with cefepime or ceftazidime is an effective alternative to combination therapy for the treatment of febrile neutropenic adult cancer patients. We compared the efficacy and safety of cefepime and ceftazidime as empiric monotherapy of febrile neutropenia in children with cancer.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A prospective, open label, randomized, comparative study in pediatric cancer patients was conducted at Chang Gung Children's Hospital from January 1, 2000, to April 15, 2001. Patients with fever and neutropenia (absolute neutrophil count of < or = 500/mm3) were randomized to receive either intravenous cefepime or ceftazidime (50 mg/kg/dose as two or three doses daily). Febrile episodes were classified as microbiologically documented infection, clinically documented infection or unexplained fever. Clinical response to therapy was classified as success and failure.

RESULTS: Ninety-five pediatric cancer patients with 120 febrile neutropenic episodes were randomized to receive empiric treatment with cefepime or ceftazidime. After 72 h of treatment, 82.8% (48 of 58) of the eligible patients in the cefepime group continued with unmodified therapy, compared with 87.9% (51 of 58) in the ceftazidime group. The neutrophil count was <100/mm3 at randomization for 76% of the patients in the cefepime group and 83% of those in the ceftazidime group; the median durations of neutropenia (<500/mm3) were 8.5 and 6.5 days, respectively. Of the 96 evaluable episodes the overall success rate with unmodified empiric therapy until the end of the treatment course in the cefepime group was comparable with that in the ceftazidime group (69% vs. 71%, P = 0.95). The response rate after glycopeptides were added to the regimens was 79.2% for the cefepime group and 77.1% for the ceftazidime group. The bacterial eradication rate was 33% for the cefepime group and 20% for the ceftazidime group (P = 0.85), and the rates of new infections were 10.4% vs. 4.2% (P = 0.67), respectively. Both study drugs were well-tolerated. Three (6.4%) patients in the cefepime group and 2 (4.3%) patients in the ceftazidime group died.

CONCLUSION: Cefepime appeared to be as effective and safe as ceftazidime for empiric treatment of febrile episodes in neutropenic pediatric cancer patients.

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