Acute Respiratory Failure in the Oncologic Patient: New Era, New Issues

  • B. L. Ferreyro
  • L. MunshiEmail author
Part of the Annual Update in Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine book series (AUICEM)


Recent decades have seen an increase in the number of patients living with cancer. This trend has resulted in an increase in intensive care unit (ICU) utilization across this population [1]. Acute respiratory failure is the most frequent medical complication leading to critical illness in oncologic patients [2–4]. Historically, there had been a reluctance to admit cancer patients to the ICU given their poor outcomes, particularly in the setting of hematologic malignancy and invasive mechanical ventilation [5]. ICU treatment limitations or refusal of admission was advocated [6]. Major advances in oncologic care, critical care and more meticulous attention to where the conditions overlap, have resulted in marked improvement in short-term survival in this population [1, 7, 8]. Despite these major advances, acute respiratory failure in this population remains complex with unique challenges surrounding diagnosis and management compared to the general ICU population. This chapter provides a comprehensive overview of acute respiratory failure in the oncologic population and highlights specific considerations for the intensivist. We will focus on the important differences between the immunocompromised oncologic patient and general intensive care population, the spectrum of causes of acute respiratory failure with a specific focus on toxicities related to newer cancer therapies, diagnostic approach, management and an up-to-date overview of prognosis.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Interdepartmental Division of Critical Care Medicine, Department of Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital/University Health NetworkUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Internal Medicine Department, Hospital Italiano de Buenos AiresBuenos AiresArgentina

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