Fecal transplants for cancer treatment, C. diff: 6 things to know

Clostridium difficile infection is common in cancer patients due to the frequent use of broad-spectrum antibiotics associated with treatment. These antibiotics alter the bacteria in the gut, leaving the gastrointestinal tract vulnerable to such an infection.

Fecal microbiota transplantation, or stool transplantation, has shown to effectively restore the normal gut flora following CDI, and research published in the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing suggests FMT may have some efficacy as a component of cancer treatment.

Here are six things to know about FMT and treatment of CDI in cancer patients.

1. While the use of FMT in immunocompromised patients has been limited due to safety concerns, retrospective analyses have found FMT to be an effective treatment for CDI in such populations.

2. Previously, FMT has shown efficacy in treating inflammatory bowel disease, insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes and recurrent CDI. In the case of recurrent CDI, success rates for the transplantation range from 81 to 92 percent, according to a 2012 paper.

3. Typically, patients who undergo FMT report a significant decrease in both subjective and objective CDI symptoms within eight weeks.

4. Standard microbial treatments for CDI are associated with relapse of the infection, which can significantly affect a patient's quality of life, including nutritional status, fatigue and overall outlook.

5. CDI increases morbidity and mortality, particularly in patients with cancer because of their compromised ability to fight infection.

6. The FDA currently allows FMT as a CDI treatment as long as healthcare providers obtain informed consent from patients.

More articles about C. diff treatment:

Physicians, nurses disagree on when to test for C. diff: 11 risk factors
Study examines economic burden of C. diff on hospitals
Leukemia patients at high risk for C. diff infections, study finds



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