Clostridium Difficile Infection in Oncology Patients: Epidemiology, Pathophysiology, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, and Treatment

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Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) is one of the most common healthcare-associated infections in the United States. Its incidence has been increasing in the recent years despite preventative measures. CDI increases annual expenses by 1.5 billion dollars. Cancer patients are at higher risk to acquire CDI, as explained by their frequent exposure to risk factors. CDI in cancer patients is associated with higher mortality rates and prolonged hospitalization. Furthermore, CDI affects the course of the disease by delaying treatments such as chemotherapy. Chemotherapeutics drugs are considered independent risk factors for CDI. This review discusses Clostridium difficile infection in cancer patients, including those who are receiving chemotherapy. Herein, we summarize recent data regarding the epidemiology, risk factors, including chemotherapy regimens, pathogenesis, diagnostic techniques and treatment options, including newer agents. Method: A literature search was performed using the PubMed and Google Scholar databases. The MeSH terms utilized in different combinations were 'clostridium difficile', 'neoplasia/cancer/oncology', 'chemotherapy', 'diagnosis', and 'treatment', in addition to looking up each treatment option individually to generate a comprehensive search. The articles were initially screened by title alone, followed by screening through abstracts. Full texts of pertinent articles (including letters to editors, case reports, case series, cohort studies, and clinical trials) were included in this review.