New NHS guidelines have been published to combat the growing number of deaths from neutropenic sepsis as a result of cancer treatment. Blood cancer treatment regimens lead to more neutropenic sepsis deaths than any other cancer.
Neutropenia is a common side-effect of chemotherapy, which suppresses the production of white blood cells called neutrophils. As neutrophils are a key component of the body’s immune system, patients with neutropenia are extremely vulnerable to infection.
The highest ratio of neutropenic deaths is seen in the 15-24 age group. This is probably because this group receive more aggressive chemotherapy than older patients and the fact that this group is also thought to be less likely to adhere as strictly to medical advice.
The new NICE guidance is designed to give patients and healthcare workers doctors up-to-date advice on preventing neutropenic sepsis and spotting it early if it does occur. Clinicians are provided with a checklist of key symptoms to be vigilant for in cancer patients, with advice to start treatment with antibiotic treatment immediately if any of the symptoms are present.
Patients and their families will also be provided with clear information at the beginning of their treatment with advice on spotting the tell-tale signs of neutropenic sepsis.
Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research provides dietary information for blood cancer patients on how to prevent neutropenic sepsis during treatment. For more information click here.