Objective: To compare the efficacy and tolerability of fluconazole and oral amphotericin B in preventing fungal infection in neutropenic patients with acute leukemia.
Design: A randomized, controlled, multicenter trial.
Setting: 30 hematologic units in tertiary care or university hospitals.
Patients: 820 consecutive, afebrile, adult patients with acute leukemia and chemotherapy-induced neutropenia.
Intervention: Patients were randomly assigned to receive fluconazole, 150 mg, as a once-daily capsule, or amphotericin B suspension, 500 mg every 6 hours.
Measurements: An intention-to-treat analysis was done for 820 patients: 420 treated with fluconazole and 400 treated with oral amphotericin B.
Results: Definite systemic fungal infection occurred in 2.6% of fluconazole recipients and 2.5% of amphotericin B recipients; suspected systemic fungal infection requiring the empiric use of intravenous amphotericin B occurred in 16% of fluconazole recipients and 21% of oral amphotericin B recipients, a difference of 5 percentage points (95% CI for difference, −0.02% to 10%; P = 0.07). Superficial fungal infection was documented in 1.7% of fluconazole recipients compared with 2.7% of amphotericin B recipients, a difference of one percentage point (CI of difference, −0.9% to 3%; P > 0.2). The distribution of fungal isolates in systemic and superficial fungal infection was similar in both groups. The overall mortality rate accounted for 10% in both groups. An excellent compliance was documented for 90% of patients treated with fluconazole compared with 72% of those treated with amphotericin B suspension, a difference of 18 percentage points (CI for difference, 13% to 23%). Side effects were documented less frequently in fluconazole than in amphotericin B recipients (1.4% compared with 7%, a difference of 5.6 percentage points; CI for difference, 2% to 8%; P < 0.01).
Conclusion: Fluconazole was at least as effective as oral amphotericin B in preventing systemic and superficial fungal infection and the empiric use of amphotericin B in neutropenic patients with acute leukemia but was better tolerated.
*Gruppo Italiano Malattie Ematologiche Maligne dell'Adulto. See Appendix for additional investigators in the study and end of text for participating institutions and current author addresses.