Together is a new resource for anyone affected by pediatric cancer - patients and their parents, family members, and friends.Learn More
An infection can be life-threatening in children with cancer or other condition that causes neutropenia. It should be treated as a medical emergency.
Treatments such as chemotherapy can affect the immune system. They work by killing the body’s fastest-growing cells. These include healthy cells and cancer cells.
When the number of infection-fighting white blood cells called neutrophils is decreased, a condition called neutropenia results. Patients with neutropenia cannot fight infections well. They can become seriously ill very quickly. It is important to watch for signs of an infection, so it can be treated right away.
Signs and symptoms of infection may include:
Whether you are at the hospital or at home, tell a medical care provider right away if you notice signs of infection in your child.
A fever is an increase in body temperature. Body temperature can vary slightly from person to person and may depend on factors such as time of day and physical activity. The method used to take a temperature can also affect the results.
For children over 3 months of age, fever can be defined as:
In a child younger than 3 months, a fever is an under the arm temperature of 99.4°F (37.4°C) or higher.
The most common cause of fever is an infection caused by bacteria or viruses. Other causes of fever may include heat exposure, cancer, autoimmune disorders, certain medicines, or immunizations.
Fever signs and symptoms include:
Parents and other caregivers are encouraged to take steps to prevent infections from occurring.
Do you have questions about coronavirus and children with cancer?
Please visit our COVID-19 section.
Reviewed: July 2021