Early Versus Late Stopping of Antibiotics in Children With Cancer and High-risk Febrile Neutropenia

  • End date
    Aug 12, 2024
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Murdoch Childrens Research Institute
Updated on 12 December 2021


This randomised controlled trial will determine the non-inferiority of stopping empiric antibiotics prior to absolute neutrophil count (ANC) recovery (Early Stopping) versus stopping antibiotics upon ANC recovery (Standard of Care/ Late Stopping) , in children with cancer and high-risk febrile neutropenia (FN).


Febrile neutropenia (FN) is a common complication of childhood cancer treatment and a leading cause of hospital admission and antibiotic exposure. Management typically involves broad-spectrum antibiotics until resolution of fever and absolute neutrophil count (ANC) recovery >500 cells/mm3. However, despite the frequency with which FN occurs, evidence to guide duration of antibiotics is limited to observational studies and small randomised controlled trials.Current international clinical guidelines provide conflicting recommendations on when to cease empiric antibiotics for FN. Early cessation of antibiotics in FN may translate to reduced antibiotic exposure and limit potential harms including drug side-effects, antimicrobial resistance, Clostridioides difficile infection and microbiome disruption. This randomised controlled trial will use a composite endpoint of fever recurrence, physiological instability, new bacteremia, intensive care admission and death to determine the non-inferiority of stopping antibiotics prior to ANC recovery compared with standard of care (SOC), in children with cancer and high-risk FN. Adopting a health informatics approach, patient identification, consent, randomisation and reporting of outcomes will be embedded within the electronic medical record (EMR). Children with high-risk FN who have been afebrile and clinically stable for at least 48 hours will be randomised to cease antibiotics or continue SOC. Data on primary outcomes, antibiotic duration, length of stay, C. difficile infection and antimicrobial resistance will be automatically collected by the EMR. This is the first study of its kind in children with high-risk FN and adopts a novel embedded trial design. Results will inform optimal antibiotic duration in FN, potentially reducing unnecessary antibiotic exposure.

Condition Febrile Neutropenia
Treatment Ciprofloxacin, Amikacin Injection, Piperacillin and Tazobactam for Injection, Cefepime Injection, Ceftazidime Injection, Ceftazidime Injection, Vancomycin Injection
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04948463
SponsorMurdoch Childrens Research Institute
Last Modified on12 December 2021


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Diagnosis of
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) or acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) in dose-intensive phases of induction/re-induction, intensification or consolidation or
Lymphoma in induction or
Any disease within 30 days of allogeneic or autologous HSCT
Neutropenia (<500 cells/mm3)
Afebrile (temperature <38.0°C) period for at least 48 hours and no more than 96 hours after at least one temperature measured by axillary or tympanic thermometer (≥38.0°C)
Commenced on empiric FN antibiotics (any of piperacillin-tazobactam, cefepime, ceftazidime or vancomycin and ciprofloxacin)

Exclusion Criteria

Prolonged febrile neutropenia (documented daily temperature ≥38.0°C for ≥7 day)
Documented positive blood culture since onset of FN episode and prior to randomisation
Documented other infection (microbiologically or clinically documented) requiring antibiotic treatment since onset of FN episode and prior to randomisation
Admitted to the ICU at the time of randomisation
Clinical instability (One or more conscious state, respiratory rate, blood pressure, heart rate or oxygen saturations in MET criteria OR two or more respiratory rate, blood pressure, heart rate or oxygen saturations simultaneously (+/- 4 hrs) in the clinical review criteria in 48 hours prior to randomisation)
Within 28 days of last randomisation
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