Asim Amjad, Rabia Muhammad Wali, Sadia Anjum, Raheela Mansoor


Background: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) is one of the most common haematological malignancies seen in children. Despite steadily improving long-term outcomes, infections remain a major cause of morbidity and mortality in children receiving therapy for leukaemia. The incidence and risk of invasive fungal infections (IFIs) continue to rise. In some settings, IFIs caused by moulds are more frequent than those caused by yeasts, and Aspergillus spp. is the most common pathogens.  The aim of the study was to determine the frequency, type of fungal infection seen during induction chemotherapy and outcomes. Methods: This observational retrospective study was conducted in paediatric oncology department at Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital Lahore from January 2015 to December 2016 after taking International research board (IRB) approval. The study includes all the patients aged 1–15 who were diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia while on induction chemotherapy. The data was retrieved of 165 patients from the hospital database after informed written consent. Results: The mean age of the patients was 4.6±2.80 with range 1–15years. Total 154 (93%) of the children were of age between 1–5 years whereas only 11 (6.7%) were between 5–10 years. Male sex was predominant in 117 (70.9%) and 48 (29.1%) were girls. Pre-B Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia was diagnosed in 93.3% of the patients and rest 11 (6.7%) were diagnosed with Pre-T Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. NCI Standard risk patients were 132 (80%) and 33 (20%) were stratified as high risk. Fungal infections were documented in 18 (11%) patients out of which 7(39%) were probable infections, and only 11 (61%) were proven fungal infections. Aspergillus was the commonest organism in 5 (28%) patients. Death was observed in 21 (13%) patients and causes were sepsis due to infections in 18 (86%) out of which fungal infections were 11(61%), bacterial 4(22%), combine bacterial and fungal 3(17%). Remaining 3 (14%) patients death causes include, neutropenic colitis was observed in first patient, second patient died of infection without any identifiable focus, and third patient died due to chemotherapy related toxicity. Conclusion: Our study concludes that the fungal infection was the most common cause of mortality in induction in our patients. A prospective study in the form of clinical trial is needed to see if use of prophylactic antifungal can improve outcomes in our setting.

Keywords: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia; ALL; Hepatosplenomegaly; Invasive fungal infections

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