Antifungal treatment strategies in patients with haematological diseases or cancer: from prophylaxis to empirical, pre-emptive and targeted therapy.
Immunocompromised patients have a high risk for invasive fungal diseases (IFDs). These infections are mostly life-threatening and an early diagnosis and initiation of appropriate antifungal therapy are essential for the clinical outcome. Empirical treatment is regarded as the standard of care for granulocytopenic patients who remain febrile despite broad-spectrum antibiotics. However, this strategy can bear a risk of overtreatment and subsequently induce toxicities and unnecessary treatment costs. Pre-emptive antifungal therapy is now increasingly used to close the time gap between delayed initiation for proven disease and empirical treatment for anticipated infection without further laboratory or radiological evidence of fungal disease. Currently, some new non-invasive microbiological and laboratory methods, like the Aspergillus-galactomannan sandwich-enzyme immunoassay (Aspergillus GM-ELISA), 1,3-β-D-glucan assay or PCR techniques have been developed for a better diagnosis and determination of target patients. The current diagnostic approaches to fungal infections and the role of the revised definitions for invasive fungal infections, now IFDs, will be discussed in this review as well as old and emerging approaches to empirical, pre-emptive and targeted antifungal therapies in patients with haemato-oncological malignancies.
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