• solid tumors;
  • docetaxel;
  • lymphopenia;
  • nonneutropenic infections



Docetaxel is associated with severe lymphopenia and increased incidence of nonneutropenic infection. This study investigated the incidence of nonneutropenic infections and/or febrile episodes in patients with solid tumors receiving frontline docetaxel-based chemotherapy.


Chemotherapy-naive patients with solid tumors treated with docetaxel-based chemotherapy were studied prospectively for the development of nonneutropenic infections.


During a 2-year period, 680 cancer patients enrolled in 24 protocols received 2867 cycles of docetaxel-containing chemotherapy. Fifty-three patients (7.8%) developed nonneutropenic infections and/or febrile episodes. The most common of these were pulmonary infections (n = 25), Pneumocystis carinii interstitial pneumonias (n = 5), and candidal (n =11), herpetic (n =4), and cytomegaloviral (n =3) infections. Thirty-six patients (68%) had severe lymphopenia (< 900 cells per deciliter) and 49 (92%) had less than 400 CD4+ cells per deciliter. Patients with a low CD4+ cell count (≤ 200 cells per deciliter) had a significantly higher probability to develop opportunistic than common infections (P = 0.002). The incidence of nonneutropenic infections and/or febrile episodes was significantly higher in patients treated with docetaxel/gemcitabine (18.3%; P = 0.0001) and docetaxel/CDDP (11.7%; P = 0.012) than in those treated with docetaxel alone (3.6%). Conversely, 175 patients who received 752 cycles of chemotherapy with paclitaxel-containing regimens and 410 patients who received 2174 cycles with nontaxane-based regimens developed 6 (3.4%; p=0.042) and 12 (3%; p=0.001) nonneutropenic infections, respectively. Less than 10% of the patients of the two latter groups were lymphopenic. The risk of nonneutropenic infection in patients receiving docetaxel-based chemotherapy was 2.38 and 2.8 times higher than in patients receiving paclitaxel and nontaxane-based chemotherapy, respectively.


Patients treated with docetaxel-based chemotherapy are at increased risk of developing nonneutropenic infections. This may be related, at least partly, to severe postchemotherapy CD4+ lymphopenia. Cancer 2002;95:1326–33. © 2002 American Cancer Society.

DOI 10.1002/cncr.10802