Sepsis and Oncology

Training Module Description: 

Cancer is the most common comorbid condition in patients with sepsis. Cancer patients are particularly susceptible to sepsis due to the immunosuppressive effects of cancer treatment, or due to the malignancy itself. The risk of developing sepsis is increased ten-fold by the presence of any type of cancer, and a sepsis diagnosis in cancer patients increases the risk of death by two to three times. This training module explores the unique complexities of sepsis in the cancer patient, and discusses sepsis screening, identification, and treatment in this population. A case study is included, along with a patient’s experience to provide the patient perspective.


  • Treatment for cancer patients emphasizes special consideration for: Antibiotic resistance related to use of antibiotic prophylaxis can affect treatment options. The use granulocyte colony stimulating factor can affect WBC and bandemia, and thus affect screening for sepsis. Prolonged neutropenia (>7 days) can affect optimal treatment of infections. Severe thrombocytopenia. Often a combination of underlying disease, chemotherapy, and sepsis. Limits surgical interventions for source control, or removal of infected tunneled catheters. 
  • Clinical suspicion for sepsis remains a priority for all clinicians caring for cancer patients and consistent, ongoing screening for sepsis is conducted. 
  • Physicians will utilize care plans to perform ongoing screening so sepsis is detected early and treatment plans for cancer patients can be adjusted accordingly. 

Target Audience

This activity is designed for physicians, nurses, clinicians and other members of the healthcare team involved in care of cancer patients. 

Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this educational activity, the participant should be able to:

  • Define sepsis as related to the cancer patient (Knowledge) 

  • Recognize the importance of understanding sepsis in cancer patient (Knowledge, Competence) 

  • Describe how sepsis can present in cancer patient (Knowledge) 

  • Assess the impact of sepsis on cancer care (Knowledge, Competence) 

  • Articulate considerations for management of sepsis in cancer patients and implement these management techniques in patient care (Knowledge, Competence, Performance, Patient Outcomes) 

    Course summary
    Available credit: 
    • 1.00 Participation
    • 1.50 RN CE Contact Hours
      Provider approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing, Provider Number CEP17068.
    Course opens: 
    Course expires: 

    Imrana Malik, MD

    Associate Professor, Department of Urgent Care, UT MD Anderson Cancer Center

    Imrana Malik, MD, DABSM, FCCP, is an associate professor in the Department of Critical Care at MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC), and is primarily involved in direct patient care in the medical and surgical intensive care units. Her main clinical research interest involves sepsis in cancer patients. She is the co-chair of the Sepsis Committee at MDACC, the mission for which is to decrease mortality from sepsis in cancer patients. Through the Sepsis Committee, she has planned and hosted annual World Sepsis Awareness Day events at MDACC since 2012. For these events, she also created educational videos about sepsis for pediatric, adult, and elderly populations, which can all be viewed on YouTube. In addition, she has organized the World Sepsis Day events and Annual Symposium (One Voice for Sepsis) for the Texas Medical Center, as chair of the multi-institutional TMC Sepsis Collaborative. She has also participated in the planning committee for the Annual Symposium of the Texas Chapter of the Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) from 2012-2014.

    Provider approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing, Provider Number CEP17068 for 1.5 contact hours.

    Other healthcare providers will receive a certificate of attendance for 1.0 contact hours.

    Medical Disclaimer

    The information on or available through this site is intended for educational purposes only. Sepsis Alliance does not represent or guarantee that information on or available through this site is applicable to any specific patient’s care or treatment. The educational content on or available through this site does not constitute medical advice from a physician and is not to be used as a substitute for treatment or advice from a practicing physician or other healthcare provider. Sepsis Alliance recommends users consult their physician or healthcare provider regarding any questions about whether the information on or available through this site might apply to their individual treatment or care.

    Available Credit

    • 1.00 Participation
    • 1.50 RN CE Contact Hours
      Provider approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing, Provider Number CEP17068.
    Please login or register to take this course.

    Educational Methods: Lecture/Didactic, Case Study, Pre-/Post-test

    This activity includes:

    • Pre-test
    • Downloadable slides
    • Pre-recorded video
    • Post-test (passing rate: 80%)
    • Evaluation

    All components must be completed to earn a certificate of attendance. This course can be completed at your convenience.