Coping with cancer and the treatment it requires is one of the most challenging experiences life can bring, so developing an infection as well could feel like the final straw. At Infectious Disease Associates & Travel Medicine Clinic in Las Vegas, Nevada, Alka Rebentish, MD, and Chukwudum Uche, MD, FIDSA, FACP, provide advanced treatments for infections in cancer patients. To benefit from their expertise and compassionate care, call the clinic today to book an in-person or telehealth appointment, or arrange a consultation using the online form.
Cancer patients are usually at higher risk of infection because of the effects of the disease on their immune system. Fortunately, Infectious Disease Associates & Travel Medicine Clinic specialists have expertise in helping cancer patients who have infections.
Some forms of cancer, like lymphomas, multiple myeloma, and leukemia, directly affect the way your immune system’s blood cells work. Other forms of cancer change the cells in your immune system, so they start to interfere with normal functioning.
The white blood cells that are so important in helping your body fight infection come from your bone marrow. Cancer that gets into your bone marrow destroys or displaces healthy cells, meaning you can’t make enough white blood cells. You’re then more vulnerable to infection.
Having other health problems, and issues like poor nutrition can increase the risk of infections in cancer patients. Tissues damaged by cancer can also provide easy access to infectious organisms. Many forms of treatment also increase the risk of infection in cancer patients.
Cancer treatments can sometimes affect the way your immune system works. Radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy all cause damage to your immune system that reduces your ability to fight infection.
Surgery can also compromise your immune system. Surgical incisions are an infection risk in the short-term, whereas a procedure like a splenectomy has a permanent effect on your immune system.
Most cancer treatments cause a temporary increase in risk by depressing your immune system, but your body’s natural defenses should recover once you complete your treatment.
Symptoms of infections in cancer patients include:
Infections often cause heat, redness, swelling, and discharge. This is most likely to occur in skin folds (particularly around the groin area), at a wound site, or where a catheter, stoma, or other device exits your body.
The Infectious Disease Associates & Travel Medicine Clinic specialists take blood or other samples to test for the specific organism that’s causing the infection.
However, as your condition could deteriorate very quickly, they might start you on broad-spectrum antibiotics while awaiting the results of the tests.
The treatments you get when you have an infection are called anti-infectives. These are specific drugs that prevent or treat infections, such as:
You might also need to receive injections of colony-stimulating factors (CSFs) that stimulate your bone marrow into making new white blood cells, to give your immune system a boost.
Find out how the experts at Infectious Disease Associates & Travel Medicine Clinic help treat infections in cancer patients by calling their office today or booking an appointment online.