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Open Access Research article

Candidaemia and cancer: patients are not all the same

Alessandro Comarú Pasqualotto15*, Daniela Dornelles Rosa2, Lidia Rosi Medeiros3 and Luiz Carlos Severo4

Author Affiliations

1 Medical School, The University of Manchester, UK

2 Cancer Research UK, Department of Medical Oncology, Christie Hospital, Manchester, UK

3 Post-Graduation in Epidemiology, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil

4 Clinical Mycology Laboratory, Santa Casa Complexo Hospitalar, Porto Alegre, Brazil

5 1/512 Wilmslow Road, M20 4BT, UK

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2006, 6:50  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-6-50

Published: 16 March 2006



Most of the studies about invasive Candida infections in cancer patients have focused on haematological patients. The aim of this study was to provide information about risk factors for candidaemia in patients with solid tumours.


Retrospective cohort study. During a 9-year period (1995–2003) we reviewed all cases of candidaemia that affected cancer patients in Santa Casa Complexo Hospitalar, Brazil.


During the period of study, 210 patients had the diagnosis of candidaemia in our medical centre, and 83 of these patients had cancer (39.5%). The majority of patients with cancer had solid tumours (77.1%), mostly in the alimentary tract. Most of solid cancers were non-metastatic (71.9%). Major diagnoses in patients with haematological neoplasia were acute leukaemia (n = 13), high grade non-Hodgkin lymphoma (n = 5) and Hodgkin's disease (n = 1). Non-Candida albicans species caused 57.8% of the episodes of candidaemia in patients with cancer, mainly in patients with haematological malignancies (p = 0.034). Neutropenia and treatment with corticosteroids were more frequent in the haematological group, in comparison with patients with solid tumours. Only 22.2% of patients with solid tumours were neutropenic before candidaemia. Nonetheless, the presence of ileus and the use of anaerobicides were independent risk factors for candidaemia in patients with solid cancers. The overall mortality in cancer patients with candidaemia was 49.4%. We then compared 2 groups of adult patients with candidaemia. The first was composed of non-neutropenic patients with solid tumours, and the second group included patients without cancer. We found that central venous catheters and gastrointestinal surgery were independently associated with candidaemia in patients with solid tumour.


Cancer patients with candidaemia seem to have very different predisposing factors to acquire the infection when stratified according to baseline diseases. This study provides some useful clinical information regarding risk for candidaemia in patients with solid tumours.