Study objectives: The aim of this study was to elucidate the clinical characteristics and treatment responses of tuberculosis developing in patients receiving anticancer chemotherapy.
Design: Retrospective case-control study.
Setting: The Seoul National University Hospital, a tertiary referral hospital in South Korea.
Patients: From January 1, 2000, to July 31, 2004, patients with tuberculosis detected during the course of anticancer chemotherapy were enrolled as cases. Age- and sex-matched tuberculosis patients without any malignant disease were selected as control subjects.
Measurements and results: Twenty-four patients and 48 control subjects were enrolled. Their mean ± SD age was 56.3 ± 14.3 years, and the male-to-female ratio was 3:1. The most common malignancy was gastric cancer (43%). Lymphoma (17%), lung cancer (8%), and head and neck cancer (8%) were also common. In both groups, the lung was the most common site of tuberculosis involvement (87.8% and 79.2%, retrospectively). The presence of scar tissue suggesting old tuberculosis on radiography was more common in patients with tuberculosis receiving anticancer chemotherapy (66.7% vs 43.8%, p = 0.07). No difference in radiographic severity was observed between groups. A regimen based on first-line antituberculosis drugs was started in all subjects. Frequency of completion of the expected antituberculosis chemotherapy was lower in patients with tuberculosis developing with anticancer chemotherapy (58.3% vs 79.2%, p = 0.02), but it was not different after excluding the loss due to progression of underlying malignancies. Bacteriologic/radiographic responses to treatment and toxicity of antituberculosis medication sufficient to change or stop treatment were not different in both groups.
Conclusions: With regard to radiographic and clinical responses to antituberculosis treatment, tuberculosis developing during anticancer chemotherapy is not clinically different from tuberculosis developing in ordinary situations. Findings in this study suggest that anticancer chemotherapy is not an obstacle in treating tuberculosis.