by Robert S. Phillips, Thomas Lehrnbecher, Sarah Alexander, Lillian Sung
Febrile neutropenia is a common and potentially life-threatening complication of treatment for childhood cancer, which has increasingly been subject to targeted treatment based on clinical risk stratification. Our previous meta-analysis demonstrated 16 rules had been described and 2 of them subject to validation in more than one study. We aimed to advance our knowledge of evidence on the discriminatory ability and predictive accuracy of such risk stratification clinical decision rules (CDR) for children and young people with cancer by updating our systematic review. Methods
The review was conducted in accordance with Centre for Reviews and Dissemination methods, searching multiple electronic databases, using two independent reviewers, formal critical appraisal with QUADAS and meta-analysis with random effects models where appropriate. It was registered with PROSPERO: CRD42011001685. Results
We found 9 new publications describing a further 7 new CDR, and validations of 7 rules. Six CDR have now been subject to testing across more than two data sets. Most validations demonstrated the rule to be less efficient than when initially proposed; geographical differences appeared to be one explanation for this. Conclusion
The use of clinical decision rules will require local validation before widespread use. Considerable uncertainty remains over the most effective rule to use in each population, and an ongoing individual-patient-data meta-analysis should develop and test a more reliable CDR to improve stratification and optimise therapy. Despite current challenges, we believe it will be possible to define an internationally effective CDR to harmonise the treatment of children with febrile neutropenia.