BRUSSELS, November 26 /PRNewswire/ -- The risk of neutropenic infections poses an additional threat to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, at a time when a patient's emotional and physical energy has to be focused on fighting the primary disease. According to the results of a new pan-European survey amongst patients and nurses, nearly a third of patients (30 percent) surveyed experienced an infection, during the course of their chemotherapy, 46 percent of which were associated with neutropenia or febrile neutropenia.
The Preventing Febrile Neutropenia - Staying on Track with Chemotherapy survey, presented today,(1) found that 37 percent of patients with an infection needed to delay or change their chemotherapy as a result. Nine out of ten (92 percent) of nurses questioned, agreed that prevention of febrile neutropenia and infection is very important to achieve a successful outcome for patients undergoing chemotherapy.
When questioned about factors that may impact chemotherapy, almost all (96 percent) of the nurse respondents agreed that neutropenic infection can cause a delay in treatment, with interruptions in chemotherapy impacting overall effectiveness of the treatment (63 percent). Six out of ten nurses felt that a patient's chances of successful cancer treatment may be lower if there need to be changes in chemotherapy treatment as a result of febrile neutropenia or neutropenic infection and over half of nurses questioned agreed that lowering the dose may have an impact on the outcome of treatment, even if the dose is adjusted or increased later on (56 percent).
The survey was conducted by The European Oncology Nursing Society (EONS) in nine European countries to explore current perceptions and issues relating to cancer therapy and infection, specifically neutropenia/febrile neutropenia (FN).
Cancer patients often undergo intense and frequent chemotherapy, making them vulnerable to severe or febrile neutropenia and its consequences, such as infection. The survey results suggest that the risk of neutropenia and the impact this can have on patients' clinical care and quality of life must be taken even more seriously, said Kay Leonard, European Oncology Nursing Society (EONS) Board Member. Despite the widespread availability of prophylactic treatments, a significant number of patients continue to be affected by neutropenia and its consequences, she added.
Neutropenia means that there is an abnormally low level of infection-fighting white blood cells (neutrophils) in the body and it is a common and potentially dangerous side effect of some chemotherapies, leading to a heightened risk of infection, sometimes life-threatening amongst cancer patients. Severe neutropenia and febrile neutropenia require hospitalisation in high-risk cases: nearly 1 in 10 patients hospitalised with febrile neutropenia, die as a result of it. A secondary outcome of febrile neutropenia can be the delay in scheduled chemotherapy, keeping patients from getting their full dose at the right time with a potential impact on chemotherapy outcome. Hospitalisation also results in an interruption to a patient's daily life, versus their planned chemotherapy treatment, which usually takes place on an outpatient basis.
Treatments are available to prevent and manage chemotherapy-induced infections and significant progress has been made in the development of proactive therapies to help manage side effects of chemotherapy. Guidelines developed by the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) state that recombinant human granulocyte colony-stimulating factors (G-CSFs) are available to treat or prevent neutropenia and therefore reduce associated complications.(2) This is reflected in 39 percent of nurse survey respondents who confirmed using G-CSFs prophylactically to prevent febrile neutropenia in patients receiving chemotherapy. An additional 22 percent of nurses reported using both G-CSFs and antibiotics.
However, nurse respondents expressed concerns regarding patients' compliance to treatment (58 percent were somewhat, very or extremely concerned). Moreover, it was reported by patients in the survey that access to and provision of treatments that prevent infection varies widely across Europe.
Given the serious nature of neutropenic infections, it is vital that patients are provided with information about their risk of neutropenia and developing an infection, as a result of their chemotherapy. When prescribed prophylaxis with daily G-CSF, it is essential to ensure compliance to treatment to achieve the best possible outcome of the primary chemotherapy. Thus, a G-CSF which can be administered once per chemotherapy cycle, may offer compliance advantages, said Dr. Matti S. Aapro, Director, Multidisciplinary Oncology Institute, Genolier, Switzerland.
A significant number of patient respondents did not appear to fully understand their risk of developing febrile neutropenia. Conversely, almost two-thirds (64 percent) of nurses questioned stated that they discuss the management of fever during and after therapy with their patients, which suggests a need for improvements in communication between patients and their healthcare providers.
The Preventing Febrile Neutropenia - Staying on Track with Chemotherapy survey was conducted by PatientView in collaboration with The European Oncology Nursing Society (EONS), and is sponsored by Amgen. This research is representative of the company's ongoing efforts to assess better ways to reduce neutropenia and its consequences in patients with cancer.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
About the survey
The survey was conducted by The European Oncology Nursing Society (EONS) in association with PatientView, amongst 300 patients and 157 nurses in nine European countries (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, UK Ireland) to explore current perceptions and issues relating to cancer therapy and infection, specifically Neutropenia/Febrile Neutropenia. The current results are 'interim' and at the halfway mark in the survey period, although overall trends are expected to remain the same. The aim is to survey a total of 500 patients.
About The European Oncology Nursing Society (EONS)
The European Oncology Nursing Society (EONS) has provided professional support to cancer nurses since 1984. Registered as an independent, not for profit organisation, EONS represents the voice of more than 22,000 cancer nurses from 29 European countries. With our headquarters in Brussels, EONS assists in the promotion of healthy European communities through the development of activities that educate, support and empower cancer nurses, enabling them to provide the best possible patient care.
PatientView is an independent researcher and publisher that works closely with patient organisations. PatientView has conducted hundreds of surveys of patients and patient organisations over the years. These surveys, and the projects they have informed, have contributed to changes in government policy, promoted patient-public consultation, supported academics and researchers, and raised public awareness of specific disease areas.
Amgen discovers, develops and delivers innovative human therapeutics. A biotechnology pioneer since 1980, Amgen was one of the first companies to realise the new science's promise by bringing safe and effective medicines from lab, to manufacturing plant, to patient. Amgen therapeutics have changed the practice of medicine, helping millions of people around the world in the fight against cancer, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other serious illnesses. With a deep and broad pipeline of potential new medicines, Amgen remains committed to advancing science to dramatically improve people's lives. To learn more about our pioneering science and our vital medicines, visit www.amgen.com.
(1) Amgen data on file. Preventing Febrile Neutropenia - Staying on Track with Chemotherapy survey. Conducted by PatientView: Launched end-September 2009 (ongoing)
SOURCE: Amgen; EONS - The European Oncology Nursing Society
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