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Preventing infections in oncology patients


Infections may result in many types of oncology patients in increased morbidity and mortality, and the treatments usually administered for these infections is often not as effective as it would be for the general population. Therefore, preventing infections in oncology patients is crucial in order to help them having a quality of life that is comparable to that of the healthy general population. 

A variety of strategies are utilized to prevent infections and to significantly reduce mortality rates in oncology patients. First, there are the so-called ‘non-pharmaceutical interventions’, which include proper hand hygiene, avoiding contact with people who are already suffering from an infectious disease, and wearing a mask whenever necessary, especially in busy places. There are also ‘pharmaceutical interventions’, which include vaccination, the administration of antibodies (for example through IVIG infusions), and the prophylactic administration of antimicrobials, such as antibiotics, antifungals, and antivirals, whenever necessary. 

Vaccination is one of the most effective methods of preventing infections in oncology patients. However, there are many variables that need to be considered when determining how to best vaccinate an oncology patient. Some cancer patients have a significantly impaired immune system that cannot respond to vaccination effectively. This is either because of their disease or its treatment. As a result, they are not as protected after vaccination as the general population. This is particularly true for severely immunocompromised patients, such as hematological patients who have undergone a transplant. To better reduce the chances of these patients becoming infected, it is best if the family members and people who live with these patients also get vaccinated. This reduces their chances of transmitting an infection. Additionally, determining the best time to vaccinate an oncology patient is also something that must be considered. Not all vaccines are suitable for oncological patients throughout the entire course of their disease or treatment. In general, to achieve the maximum possible immune response to vaccination and to avoid possible side effects of certain vaccines there should be a time interval between chemotherapy and vaccination, which varies depending on the type of treatment and the type of vaccine.

The Department of Infectious Diseases of the German Medical Institute, in collaboration with the Departments of Pathological Oncology and Radiotherapy, can advise each oncology patient on the optimal combination of preventative strategies and on the best vaccination program that will help minimize infections.

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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