Sepsis risk and consequences

How common is long term serious issue with neutropenic sepsis? My partner was admitted to a and e with a fever, and confirmed sepsis by drs. They've told us not to worry and that they see this all the time, but googling the mortality rates are horrific!

She was on broad spectrum antibiotics under two hours from waking up ill, and apparently that timing is the most important bit

  • Hello Jess.ladybug


    Thanks for getting in touch and welcome to the online community. My name is Karen and I’m one of the Cancer Information Nurse Specialists on the Macmillan Support Line.  


    I’m sorry to hear of your partner’s admission to hospital with neutropenic sepsis. This must have been a worrying and scary time for you both. It’s good to hear that your partner attended A&E immediately with symptoms of a fever and that she received antibiotics quickly.


    Cancer and its treatment can affect the immune system in different ways. This depends on the type of cancer and type of treatments you have.


    Having cancer and some cancer treatments can make your body unable to fight infections. White blood cells called neutrophils help us fight infections. Some cancer treatments temporarily reduce the number of neutrophils in the blood. This is most common if you have chemotherapy. There is a greater risk of infection, usually 7 to 10 days after each chemotherapy treatment, when the blood counts drop. After this time blood counts usually recover.


    This is unlikely to happen with every treatment. However, your cancer doctor may consider adjusting the dosage of treatment and/or prescribe injections to help boost white blood cells, to reduce the risk of this happening again. Your partner may wish to discuss this with her cancer treatment team.


    It's important to follow the specific advice that your cancer treatment team give you and contact the hospital straight away with any signs of infection as sepsis can be serious and a potentially life-threatening complication of an infection. You did absolutely the right thing by attending A&E quickly.


    These tips for avoiding infection may be useful to look at.


    Please don’t hesitate to give us a call on the support line if you have any further questions or want to chat through this information.


    We have an online community that you and/or your partner may find helpful and supportive. There are different cancer type and cancer experience forums where you can speak to others going through a similar experience.  


    I hope this information is helpful. If you have any other information or support needs, the Macmillan Support Line offers practical, clinical, financial, and emotional support.


    Best wishes


    Karen, Cancer Information Nurse Specialist 


    You can also speak with the Macmillan Support Line team of experts. Phone free on 0808 808 0000 (7 days a week, 8am-8pm) or send us an email