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Infections in patients undergoing targeted antineoplastic therapy


In recent decades, targeted antineoplastic therapy, which includes small molecule inhibitors, has developed as a complement or alternative to chemotherapy for cancer. Biological therapy, in turn, includes monoclonal antibodies, immune checkpoint inhibitors, CAR T-lymphocyte cell therapy, oncolytic virus inoculation, and anti-cancer vaccines.

In our time, modern cancer treatments that are widely used in the German Oncology Center include: small molecule inhibitors, monoclonal antibodies, and immune checkpoint inhibitors. Each of these kinds of treatment include several approved anti-cancer medications. Each of these medications, in addition to their effectiveness in treating cancer, is associated with an increased risk of infection.

These risks for infection, and the types of infections they may cause, are specific and differ between medications. These infections may, in fact, be caused by pathogens that would not normally cause an infection in a healthy person. These are therefore classified as opportunistic infections. This type of anti-cancer therapy may also cause the resurgence of latent infections which already exist in the patient’s body. These are infections that were either active in the past and were not detected clinically, or are in a state of permanent remission, and are controlled by the body’s immune system. In addition, there is often a challenge in differentiating between the specific, non-infectious side effects of these medications and a new or resurging infection. Finally, even though some of these medications do not increase a patient’s risk of infection, the administration of follow-up treatments, which address potential side effects may increase their overall risk.

It is easy to see that the relationship between innovative, targeted antineoplastic therapies and infections is extremely broad and complex. It requires absolute expertise in their diagnosis, treatment, and prevention, making the Department of Infectious Diseases of the German Medical Institute an integral part of our offering.

24-hour Emergency Helpline

(+357) 25 208 000

Emergencies are not yet accredited of the General Health Care System

(+357) 25 208 000

Emergencies are not yet accredited of the General Health Care System.


Dr. Aris Angouridis

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