Significance of oral Candida infections in children with cancer

Márta Alberth, László Majoros, Gabriella Kovalecz, Emese Borbás, István Szegedi, Ildikó J. Márton, Csongor Kiss

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29 Citations (Scopus)


Candidiasis is common in children with cancer, particularly during periods of severe immunosuppression and neutropenia. Our aim was to study the microbiological changes in the oral cavity of children with newly diagnosed cancer. The study group consisted of 30 consecutive children and adolescents, 16 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and 14 with solid tumors. Oral cultures to detect fungi and bacteria were conducted for all patients before treatment, during and after neutropenic episodes. In 23 patients developing fever simultaneous throat, urine and blood sampling was carried out. No pathogens were found in the cultures taken before the outset (30 cultures) or after recovery from (30 cultures) the neutropenic episodes. In the 45 oral cultures taken during the neutropenic episodes 38 (84.4%) proved positive. Fungi were the most frequently isolated oral pathogens: 33/38 yeast and 6/38 bacterial infections were identified. There was no association between the underlying malignancy and the occurrence of the positive cultures. Of the 30 patients, all 23 (76.7%) who have developed moderate-to-severe neutropenia, developed oral fungal colonization or clinically obvious fungal infection at least on one occasion during the study. In addition to oral samples, fungi were identified in 9/23 pharyngeal swabs, 6/23 urine and 1/23 blood cultures. The initial fungal pathogen was exclusively (33/33) Candida albicans. In extended severe neutropenic states, C. albicans was replaced by non-albicans species (C. kefyr, C. lusitaniae, C. sake, C. tropicalis) in 5 patients between 4 to 6 days of the neutropenic episodes. Four of the non-albicans Candida strains were resistant to azole-type antifungal agents. Neutropenic episodes of children with cancer are associated with an increased risk of developing oral and even systemic infections with C. albicans that can be replaced by azole-resistant non-albicans strains in prolonged neutropenia contributing to morbidity of these patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-241
Number of pages5
JournalPathology and Oncology Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 31 2006



  • Cancer
  • Candida albicans
  • Child
  • Non-albicans Candida strains
  • Oral infection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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