Neutropenic Fever

(Febrile Neutropenia)


Neutropenic fever is a temperature over 100.4°F (38°C) in a person with neutropenia. Neutropenia is a low number of neutrophils in the blood. This is a type of white blood cell that helps the body 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 (COPD)
  • Liver or kidney problems


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


You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. An exam will be done.

Your blood may be tested.

You may have more tests to look for the site of the infection.


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

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


Some people with this health problem 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


American Cancer Society
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute


Canadian Cancer Society
Public Health Agency of Canada


Febrile neutropenia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated October 4, 2019. Accessed December 11, 2019.
Infections in people with cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed December 11, 2019.
Taplitz RA, Kennedy EB, 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. J Clin Oncol. 2018 May 10;36(14):1443-1453.
Last reviewed September 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board James Cornell, MD