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Neutropenic Fever

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:


Neutropenic Fever

(Febrile Neutropenia)


Neutropenic fever is a temperature over 100.4°F (38°C) in a person who has neutropenia. Neutropenia is a low number of neutrophils in the blood. Neutrophils are one of the kinds of white blood cells that helps fight infections.

White Blood Cells.

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The fever is caused by an infection.

Neutropenia can have many causes, such as cancer treatments. Other medicines, infections, or cancer itself may also be the cause.

Risk Factors

Having neutropenia raises the risk of infection and fever. It is also more common in older adults.

Other things that raise the risk of this health problem are:

  • Uncontrolled cancer
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD
  • Liver or kidney problems


The main symptom is a fever. There may also be chills and sweating.


The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. An exam will be done.

Blood tests and other tests may be done to look for the site of the infection.


An infection with neutropenia can be serious. Antibiotics will be given right away to treat it.

Tests to find the infection's cause can take a few days.


Some people with neutropenia are at high risk for infection. Antibiotics may be given to help stop one before it happens.

Other steps to lower the risk of infections are:

  • Good hand washing habits
  • Staying away from people who are sick
  • Getting flu and pneumonia vaccines on time




  • Febrile neutropenia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/febrile-neutropenia.
  • Infections in people with cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/002871-pdf.pdf.
  • Taplitz, R.A., Kennedy, E.B., et al. Outpatient management of fever and neutropenia in adults treated for malignancy: American Society of Clinical Oncology and Infectious Diseases Society of America Clinical Practice Guideline Update. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 2018; 36 (14): 1443-1453.


  • Chelsea Skucek, MSN, BS, RNC-NIC
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.