Information for Health Care Providers on Infections During Chemotherapy

A Patient’s Story

Breast cancer survivor Evelyn McKnight shares her story in this video. She was one of 99 patients who contracted Hepatitis C at an oncology clinic.

Neutropenia is recognized as the most serious hematologic toxicity during cancer treatment with chemotherapy.

Each year, more than 1 million cancer patients in the United States receive chemotherapy or radiation. Many patients are treated in outpatient oncology clinics. Patients receiving chemotherapy are at risk for developing infections that may lead to hospitalization, disruptions in chemotherapy schedules, and even death.

Ongoing outbreaks and patient notifications in outpatient settings demonstrate the need for greater understanding and implementation of basic infection prevention guidance.

The webinar Outbreaks in Outpatient Oncology Settings: Lessons Learned and Key Considerations for Handling Sterile Medications [PDF-2.8MB] discussed infectious outbreaks in outpatient oncology settings and explained considerations for safe handling of sterile medications during compounding and administration.

Outpatient oncology facilities can use the Basic Infection Control and Prevention Plan for Outpatient Oncology Settings to standardize and improve infection prevention practices. A pocket-sized quick reference guide [PDF-1.6MB] is also available.

Injection Safety

Since 2002, several serious infectious disease outbreaks have occurred in cancer clinics. These outbreaks involved unsafe injection practices, including the reuse of syringes. As a result, hundreds of patients became infected and thousands more required notification and testing for bloodborne pathogens. This fact sheet offers Injection Safety Reminders for Oncology Providers. [PDF-949KB]


Tai E, Guy GP, Dunbar A, Richardson LC. Cost of cancer-related neutropenia or fever hospitalizations, United States, 2012. Journal of Oncology Practice 2017;13(6):e552–e561.

Dunbar A, Tai E, Nielsen DB, Shropshire S, Richardson LC. Preventing infections during cancer treatment. Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing 2014;18(4):426–431.