Defined as a fever >101°F (>38°C) for 1 hour, with an absolute neutrophil count (ANC) of ≤500 cells/microliter, or an ANC ≤1000 cells/microliter with a projected nadir of ≤500 cells/microliter.
It is the most common life-threatening complication of cancer therapy and is an oncologic emergency.
Empiric antibiotic therapy upon presentation has dramatically improved outcomes and decreased mortality from febrile neutropenia.
A causative organism is only identified one third of the time, and therefore antibiotics are aimed at treating a broad spectrum of pathogens.
Due to an inability to mount an inflammatory response, many patients with febrile neutropenia do not demonstrate localizing signs or symptoms other than fever.
Prophylactic antibiotics and growth factor support at the onset of neutropenia have only been shown to benefit a small subgroup of cancer patients receiving chemotherapy.