Last Updated on Oct 14, 2020

What is Neutropenic Sepsis?

Neutropenic sepsis is the unnatural reduction in neutrophils (an infection-fighting cell) due to an infection, in most cases, a bacterial infection. This condition normally occurs as a complication associated with anticancer treatment and with disorders of the bone marrow. During chemotherapy, the neutrophil count begins to drop within 5 to 7 days. It is at this stage that nearly 70%-100% of individuals are susceptible to bacterial infection that leads to death. The frequency of mortality ranges between 2% and 21%.

What are the Causes of Neutropenic Sepsis?

Neutropenic sepsis occurs due to:

  • Chemotherapy - Often observed in patients with solid tumors or in those with hematologic tumors
  • Disorders of the bone marrow - Other factors that predispose individuals undergoing chemotherapy to neutropenic sepsis are:
  • Prolonged hospital stay - Bacterial infection results from extended hospitalization, use of a catheter, chemotherapy, acute myeloid leukemia
  • The type of cancer (eg leukemia and lymphoma affecting the bone marrow)
  • Unique features of the affected individual
  • Failure of different organs after the initial sepsis is resolved – Circulatory, renal, hepatic


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