Lowering Neutropenia Risk in Cancer Patients

A male doctor is helping push his cancer patient on a wheelchair back to her hospital room, both wearing face masks during COVID-19 pandemic, preventing neutropenia concept.

Over the course of the pandemic, telehealth has become a useful tool for healthcare professionals and patients who may be unable to meet in person.

Building on that foundation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has collaborated with experts in the fields of oncology and infection control to prevent infection during cancer treatment through a three-step process of preparation, prevention, and protection available via an online portal.

Related: Breast Cancer: Exploring Current Detection, Screening, and Treatment Strategies

Identifying neutropenia

The CDC recognizes neutropenia, which is a lower-than-normal number of neutrophils in the blood, as the most serious type of hematologic toxicity experienced during cancer treatment with chemotherapy. According to a study published in the journal Cancer, neutropenia is associated with the risk of life-threatening infections, which may result in delays to chemotherapy.

The “Three Steps Toward Preventing Infections During Cancer Treatment” is an evidence-based, interactive tool designed to help assess a cancer patient’s risk for developing a low white blood cell count during chemotherapy and subsequent infections.

After completing a short questionnaire, cancer patients and caregivers will receive messages designed to educate them about keeping healthy while receiving chemotherapy. The program assesses answers to determine risk factors in either low-risk or high-risk categories.

Preventing infections, reducing risk

Healthcare professionals can complete the risk assessment online with patients and provide them with printed results and risk messages, complete the risk assessment online with patients and e-mail the results and tailored messages, or print the risk assessment to complete on a patient’s behalf while encouraging patients to access the site independently to receive their results and tailored messages.

The website is part of a larger program called Preventing Infections in Cancer Patients, a comprehensive program focused on providing information, action steps and tools for patients, their families, and their healthcare providers to reduce the risk of developing potentially life-threatening infections during treatment.

Related: Effective Navigation and Survivorship Care

About The Author