BACKGROUND: Opportunistic infections due to Candida species occur frequently in cancer patients because of their inherent immunosuppression. The aim of the present study was to investigate the epidemiology of yeast species from the oral cavity of patients during treatment for oncological and haematological malignancies.
METHODS: MALDI-TOF was performed to identify yeasts isolated from the oral cavity of 350 cancer patients. Moreover, antifungal susceptibility testing was performed in according to CLSI guidelines (M27-A3).
RESULTS: Among 162 yeasts and yeast-like fungi isolated from the oral cavity of cancer patients, Candida albicans was the most common species (50.6%), followed by Candida glabrata (24.7%), Pichia kudriavzevii (Candida krusei (9.9%)), Candida tropicalis (4.3%), Candida dubliniensis (3.7%), Kluyveromyces marxianus (Candida kefyr (3.7%)) and Candida parapsilosis (1%). In addition, uncommon yeast species i.e., Saprochaete capitata, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Clavispora lusitaniae (C. lusitaniae) and Pichia kluyveri (C. eremophila) were recovered from oral lesions. Oral colonization by C. albicans, non-albicans Candida species and uncommon yeasts were as follow; 55%, 44% and 1%, whereas oral infection due to C. albicans was 33.3%, non-albicans Candida species 60.6%, and uncommon yeasts 6.1%. Poor oral hygiene and xerostomia were identified as independent risk factors associated with oral yeast colonization. The overall resistance to fluconazole was 11.7% (19/162). Low MIC values were observed for anidulafungin for all Candida and uncommon yeast species.
CONCLUSIONS: This current study provides insight into the prevalence and susceptibility profiles of Candida species, including emerging Candida species and uncommon yeasts, isolated from the oral cavity of Iranian cancer patients. The incidence of oral candidiasis was higher amongst patients with hematological malignancies. The majority of oral infections were caused by non-albicans Candida species which were often more resistant to anti-fungal agents. Our findings suggest that anidulafungin should be used as antifungal of choice for prophylaxis in clinically high-risk patients with documented oral colonization or infection.