New Strategies of Antifungal Therapy in Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant Recipients and Patients With Hematological Malignancies

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Invasive fungal infections (IFIs) are associated with considerable morbidity and mortality among high-risk individuals. Outcomes for IFI historically have been suboptimal and associated with a high mortality rate, hence global prophylaxis strategies have been applied to at-risk populations. Among certain populations, fluconazole prophylaxis has reduced systemic and superficial infections caused by Candida species. Newer azoles are currently being evaluated as prophylaxis and have the potential to provide protection against mould pathogens that are more troublesome to treat once they occur. Global prophylaxis strategies have the shortcoming of subjecting patients to therapy that ultimately will not need it. Targeted prophylaxis has the advantage of treating only patients at highest risk using some parameter of greater host susceptibility. Prophylaxis strategies are most suitable in patients at the highest risk for IFI. For patient groups whose risk is somewhat lower or when suspicion of IFI occurs in patients receiving prophylaxis, empirical antifungal therapy is often employed following a predefined period of fever. Again this approach subjects many non-infected patients to unnecessary and toxic therapy. A more refined approach such as presumptive or pre-emptive therapy whereby treatment is only initiated upon positive identification of a surrogate marker of infection in combination with clinical and radiological signs will subject fewer patients to toxic and expensive treatments.