A High Rate of Opportunistic Infections in Patients with CLL

Opportunistic infections are high in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), especially pneumonia, according to a study published in the European Journal of Haematology.

In a nationwide study, researchers estimated the incidence and impact of inpatient opportunistic infections among 8,989 patients with CLL diagnosed in Sweden from 1994 to 2013; these patients were compared with 34,283 matched controls.

According to the results, the highest incidence of opportunistic infections in the CLL cohort was for pneumocystis pneumonia (200 infections; incidence rate [IR], 4.03), herpes zoster (146 infections; IR, 2.94), and pseudomonas (83 infections; IR, 1.66) infections. The researchers noted that the highest risk relative to matched controls was observed for pneumocystis pneumonia (IR ratio, 114; 95% confidence interval, 58.7-252). Overall, the 60-day case-fatality ratio for patients with CLL with opportunistic infections was 23%.

“We have uniquely depicted the incidence of rare and serious infections in [patients with] CLL and found a relatively high incidence of pneumocystis pneumonia. Of the most common opportunistic infections, [patients with] CLL with aspergillosis had the poorest prognosis,” the researchers concluded.