Severe pneumococcal infection in patients with neoplastic disease
A study of pneumococcal bacteremia in 56 patients with neoplastic disease from January 1, 1972 to June 30, 1980 is presented and compared to an earlier study between 1955 and 1971. Patients at highest risk were those with Hodgkin's disease who had been splenectomized, multiple myeloma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia showing an attack rate of 15.6/1000, 12.5/1000, and 10.8/1000, respectively. The attack rate was more than three times higher among patients with Hodgkin's disease in the present series compared to the previous series. In 32% of cases there was no identifiable source for the infection. Four splenectomized patients with Hodgkin's disease developed pneumococcal meningitis and two died. The overall mortality rate was 32% versus a rate of 18% for those treated with appropriate antibiotics for more than 24 hours. There was a significant improvement in overall survival when compared with our previous series. As before, almost one fourth (24%) of our isolates were not among those included in the pneumococcal vaccine presently available. Antibiotic prophylaxis should be considered in high risk patients.