The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Foundation, the CDC and Amgen today announced the launch of a three-year campaign to reduce infections among cancer patients. The campaign will provide resources and educational tools to help patients, families and healthcare providers better prevent and manage treatment-related infections.
"Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy are at a higher risk for infections, which can impact their treatment success, lead to hospitalization and cause life-threatening complications," says Charles Stokes, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation. "This partnership between the CDC Foundation, CDC and Amgen brings together experts and resources from government and the private sector to address a critical health issue for cancer patients."
Each year, according to a 2005 study published in the journal Cancer, 60,000 cancer patients in the United States are hospitalized for chemotherapy-related neutropenia -- or low white blood cell count -- which is a risk for serious infection, and a patient dies every two hours from this complication.
Healthcare professionals are concerned about the impact that infections have on treatment outcomes. According to a new Harris Interactive, Inc. survey of oncologists, infectious disease (ID) specialists and patients, 92 percent of oncologists say it is extremely to very important to prevent infections to achieve successful outcomes in chemotherapy patients.
Physicians are also concerned about emerging antibiotic resistance in this population, with 96 percent of ID specialists and 79 percent of oncologists reporting an increase in antibiotic-resistant infections in cancer patients over the past five years.
"We know that patients who acquire drug-resistant infections have more severe illness and higher risk of death," says Arjun Srinivasan, MD, a medical epidemiologist in the Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion at CDC. "Programs to improve infection control in cancer patients, whose immune systems may be compromised by chemotherapy, will aid in saving the lives of these high-risk patients."
The comprehensive education campaign will include curricula for healthcare professionals on infection control for cancer patients and appropriate antibiotic management to prevent resistance. It will also include an online education program for patients and caregivers.
"We believe joining forces with the CDC Foundation and CDC on this important public health initiative helps us achieve our mission to serve patients by bringing together experts in infectious disease and cancer to improve infection control and promote appropriate antibiotic stewardship for these high-risk patients," says Sean Harper, MD, chief medical officer and head of global development at Amgen.