Preventing Infections in Cancer Patients

Through a CDC Foundation collaboration with Amgen, CDC is leading a comprehensive program focused on providing information, action steps and tools for patients, their families, and their healthcare providers to reduce the risk of developing potentially life-threatening infections during chemotherapy treatment.

One of the most common and potentially life-threatening side effects of chemotherapy is neutropenia and the subsequent development of infections. Infections in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy may lead to hospitalization, disruptions in chemotherapy schedules, and in some cases, can be life threatening. Each year, an estimated 60,000 patients are hospitalized for chemotherapy-induced neutropenia, and a patient dies every two hours from this complication. The sources of these infections can be through patient interactions with family and social networks or from healthcare settings.

Through this collaboration, CDC developed a comprehensive campaign focused on preventing infections in cancer patients by targeting patients, their families, and their healthcare providers. For patients, CDC developed an interactive website, 3 Steps Toward Preventing Infections During Cancer Treatment. 3 Steps is an interactive online education program that provides individually tailored information to help patients recognize the signs and symptoms of infection and implement measures to prevent and control those infections.

For providers, CDC experts developed a Basic Infection Control and Prevention Plan for Outpatient Oncology Settings that outlines infection control policies and procedures—injection safety, hand hygiene, environmental disinfection, etc.—that can be tailored to any oncology clinic.

CDC also produced a collection of materials, like posters for oncology clinics, patient brochures and fact sheets, to support campaign messages. The materials are available online at

David Reese is vice president of Translational Sciences for Amgen, a biotechnology company that develops medicines to help fight cancer, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis and other serious illnesses. “Partnering with the CDC Foundation has provided a great opportunity for Amgen to work with the experts at CDC to provide information and tools to help reduce infections in cancer patients,” said Reese. “We’re proud of this multi-year collaboration, which has been a perfect opportunity for two organizations with similar expertise to join forces and leverage each other’s strengths for the benefit of patients.”

Learn More

Healthcare-associated Infections (HAI)
on the CDC website

Program Description: To develop a comprehensive education campaign targeting cancer patients, their families and their providers to reduce the risk of infection in multiple settings (outpatient office, hospital and home).
Funding Partners:
  • Amgen Inc.
Program Partners:
  • CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
  • CDC's National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases
Program Location:
  • United States of America