Investigating the Prevalence of Enteric Opportunistic Parasitic Infections among Cancer Patients of a Teaching Hospital

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Firoozgar hospital, Iran University of Medical Science, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of Parasitology and Mycology, Faculty of Medicine, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.

3 School of Medicine, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

4 Hematology - Oncology, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

5 Microbiology medical laboratory of Firoozgar hospital,Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.

6 Department of Infectious Diseases, Iran University of Medical Sciences. Tehran. Iran


Background and objectives: Cancer patients treated with chemotherapy and other immunosuppressive drugs are always prone to various infections including opportunistic parasites. Since detection of infections in immunocompromised patients are frequently imperfect and the usual symptoms such as pyrexia are missing or hidden due to leukopenia, the importance of detection of opportunistic parasitic infections is well justified. Therefore, we aimed in this study to investigating the prevalence of enteric opportunistic parasitic infections among cancer patients of a Selected Teaching Hospital Affiliated to Iran University of Medical Sciences.
Methods: This descriptive-analytical cross-sectional study was carried out on 150 cancer patients admitted to the oncology ward of a selected teaching hospital affiliated to Iran University of Medical Sciences in Iran from July 2016 to December 2017. Patients for this study were chosen by simple random selection method. Fecal samples from these patients were gathered and intestinal parasites were identified using direct wet mount, formalin-ether, chromotrope 2R staining and acid-fast staining methods. The obtained data from patients were analyzed using ANOVA, t-test and chi-square test. All statistical analyses were carried out through SPSS version 17.0.
Results: Among 150 samples investigated with direct wet mount method, 23 were reported positive for parasites with the most frequent parasite being Blastocystis (14%). Investigation of slides stained by hot acid-fast method revealed no cases contaminated by Cryptosporidium spp. or Isospora belli, yet in fecal samples stained with chromotrope 2R method 9 Microsporidia sp. infection cases were reported.
Conclusion: It was believed that due to immunosuppressive effect of chemotherapeutic agents, the treated patients are more prone to opportunistic infections. Contrary to this belief our study showed lower prevalence of infections in these patients which could be related to more prophylactic drug use that are antibacterial as well as antiparasitic.