The following guidance is based on the best available evidence. The full guideline gives details of the methods and the evidence used to develop the guidance.
The recommendations in this guideline were developed after discussion of the relevance of the evidence to children, young people and adults with cancer. The recommendations are intended for use in patients of any age. Where age-limited or disease-specific recommendations are made they are clearly indicated as such.
People have the right to be involved in discussions and make informed decisions about their care, as described in making decisions about your care.
Making decisions using NICE guidelines explains how we use words to show the strength (or certainty) of our recommendations, and has information about prescribing medicines (including off-label use), professional guidelines, standards and laws (including on consent and mental capacity), and safeguarding.
126.96.36.199 Provide patients having anticancer treatment and their carers with written and oral information, both before starting and throughout their anticancer treatment, on:
how and when to contact 24-hour specialist oncology advice
how and when to seek emergency care.
188.8.131.52 For adult patients (aged 18 years and older) with acute leukaemias, stem cell transplants or solid tumours in whom significant neutropenia (neutrophil count 0.5×109 per litre or lower) is an anticipated consequence of chemotherapy, offer prophylaxis with a fluoroquinolone during the expected period of neutropenia only. Follow the MHRA safety advice on fluoroquinolone antibiotics.
184.108.40.206 Rates of antibiotic resistance and infection patterns should be monitored in treatment facilities where patients are having fluoroquinolones for the prophylaxis of neutropenic sepsis.
220.127.116.11 Do not routinely offer G-CSF for the prevention of neutropenic sepsis in adults receiving chemotherapy unless they are receiving G-CSF as an integral part of the chemotherapy regimen or in order to maintain dose intensity.
18.104.22.168 Suspect neutropenic sepsis in patients having anticancer treatment who become unwell.
22.214.171.124 Refer patients with suspected neutropenic sepsis immediately for assessment in secondary or tertiary care.
126.96.36.199 Treat suspected neutropenic sepsis as an acute medical emergency and offer empiric antibiotic therapy immediately.
188.8.131.52 Include in the initial clinical assessment of patients with suspected neutropenic sepsis:
history and examination
full blood count, kidney and liver function tests (including albumin), C-reactive protein, lactate and blood culture.
184.108.40.206 After completing the initial clinical assessment (see recommendation 220.127.116.11) try to identify the underlying cause of the sepsis by carrying out:
additional peripheral blood culture in patients with a central venous access device if clinically feasible
urinalysis in all children aged under 5 years.
18.104.22.168 Do not perform a chest X-ray unless clinically indicated.
22.214.171.124 Offer beta lactam monotherapy with piperacillin with tazobactam as initial empiric antibiotic therapy to patients with suspected neutropenic sepsis who need intravenous treatment unless there are patient-specific or local microbiological contraindications.
126.96.36.199 Do not offer an aminoglycoside, either as monotherapy or in dual therapy, for the initial empiric treatment of suspected neutropenic sepsis unless there are patient-specific or local microbiological indications.
188.8.131.52 Do not offer empiric glycopeptide antibiotics to patients with suspected neutropenic sepsis who have central venous access devices unless there are patient-specific or local microbiological indications.
184.108.40.206 Do not remove central venous access devices as part of the initial empiric management of suspected neutropenic sepsis.
220.127.116.11 Diagnose neutropenic sepsis in patients having anticancer treatment whose neutrophil count is 0.5×109 per litre or lower and who have either:
a temperature higher than 38oC or
other signs or symptoms consistent with clinically significant sepsis.
18.104.22.168 A healthcare professional with competence in managing complications of anticancer treatment should assess the patient's risk of septic complications within 24 hours of presentation to secondary or tertiary care, basing the risk assessment on presentation features and using a validated risk scoring system.
22.214.171.124 Consider outpatient antibiotic therapy for patients with confirmed neutropenic sepsis and a low risk of developing septic complications, taking into account the patient's social and clinical circumstances and discussing with them the need to return to hospital promptly if a problem develops.
126.96.36.199 For patients with confirmed neutropenic sepsis and a high risk of developing septic complications, a healthcare professional with competence in managing complications of anticancer treatment should daily:
review the patient's clinical status
reassess the patient's risk of septic complications, using a validated risk scoring system.
188.8.131.52 Do not switch initial empiric antibiotics in patients with unresponsive fever unless there is clinical deterioration or a microbiological indication.
184.108.40.206 Switch from intravenous to oral antibiotic therapy after 48 hours of treatment in patients whose risk of developing septic complications has been reassessed as low by a healthcare professional with competence in managing complications of anticancer treatment using a validated risk scoring system.
220.127.116.11 Offer discharge to patients having empiric antibiotic therapy for neutropenic sepsis only after:
the patient's risk of developing septic complications has been reassessed as low by a healthcare professional with competence in managing complications of anticancer treatment using a validated risk scoring systemand
taking into account the patient's social and clinical circumstances and discussing with them the need to return to hospital promptly if a problem develops.
18.104.22.168 Continue inpatient empiric antibiotic therapy in all patients who have unresponsive fever unless an alternative cause of fever is likely.
22.214.171.124 Discontinue empiric antibiotic therapy in patients whose neutropenic sepsis has responded to treatment, irrespective of neutrophil count.
 At the time of review (November 2019), fluoroquinolone antibiotics did not have a UK marketing authorisation for this indication. The prescriber should follow relevant professional guidance, taking full responsibility for the decision. Informed consent should be obtained and documented. See the General Medical Council's Prescribing guidance: prescribing unlicensed medicines for further information.
 For more information see the Department of Health's Updated guidance on the diagnosis and reporting of Clostridium difficile and guidance from the Health Protection Agency and the Department of Health on Clostridium difficile infection: how to deal with the problem.
 At the time of publication (September 2012) piperacillin with tazobactam did not have a UK marketing authorisation for use in children aged under 2 years. The prescriber should follow relevant professional guidance, taking full responsibility for the decision. The child's parent or carer should provide informed consent, which should be documented. See the General Medical Council's Good practice in prescribing medicines – guidance for doctors and the prescribing advice provided by the Joint Standing Committee on Medicines (a joint committee of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and the Neonatal and Paediatric Pharmacists Group) for further information.
 Examples of risk scoring systems include the Multinational Association for Supportive Care in Cancer risk index: a multinational scoring system for identifying low-risk febrile neutropenic cancer patients (Journal of Clinical Oncology 2000; 18: 3038–51) and the modified Alexander rule for children (aged under 18) (European Journal of Cancer 2009; 45: 2843–9).