• neutropenia;
  • infection;
  • mortality;
  • chemotherapy;
  • propensity score



Febrile neutropenia (FN) is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that may develop in patients with cancer who receive myelosuppressive chemotherapy. The risk of mortality from FN is not well characterized in current clinical practice.


Patients with cancer who were receiving chemotherapy in clinical practice were identified from a large US healthcare claims database, and mortality was confirmed using the National Death Index. Patients with FN had their propensity scores matched within tumor types of interest (non-Hodgkin lymphoma and breast, lung, colorectal, and ovarian cancers) to patients who did not experience FN. Study endpoints of overall mortality (anytime during follow-up), early mortality (during the first 12 months of the first chemotherapy course), and hospitalization were examined using univariate and multivariate techniques.


Matched FN and control groups each included 5990 patients, and the average follow-up for both groups was 17.6 months. Crude incidence rates of early mortality were significantly higher for patients with FN compared with controls for all tumor types. Proportional hazards regression demonstrated a significant increase in the risk of overall and early mortality in patients with FN compared with controls (hazard ratio [HR], 1.15 [95% confidence interval, 1.02-1.29] and HR, 1.35 [95% confidence interval, 1.09-1.67], respectively).


The adjusted risk of mortality in patients who experienced FN was at least 15% higher than in comparably matched patients without FN, supporting the inference that infectious complications because of neutropenia resulting from myelosuppressive chemotherapy are clinically important. Cancer 2010. © 2010 American Cancer Society.