Infective complications in cancer patients treated with subcutaneous versus intravenous trastuzumab and rituximab: An individual patient data meta-analysis

Marliese Alexander, Kim Jachno, Kelly Anne Phillips, John F. Seymour, Monica A. Slavin, Ada Cheung, Vivian Shen, Dana Maarouf, Rory Wolfe, Senthil Lingaratnam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Background: Investigation of infection risk with subcutaneous versus intravenous trastuzumab and rituximab administration in an individual patient data (IPD) and published data meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials (RCTs). Methods: Databases were searched to September 2021. Primary outcomes were serious and high-grade infection. Relative-risk (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (95%CI) were calculated using random-effects models. Results: IPD meta-analysis (6 RCTs, 2971 participants, 2320 infections) demonstrated higher infection incidence with subcutaneous versus intravenous administration, without reaching statistical significance (serious: 12.2% versus 9.3%, RR 1.28, 95%CI 0.93to1.77, P = 0.13; high-grade: 12.2% versus 9.9%, RR 1.32, 95%CI 0.98to1.77, P = 0.07). With exclusion of an outlying study in post-hoc analysis, increased risks were statistically significant (serious: 13.1% versus 8.4%, RR 1.53, 95%CI 1.14to2.06, P = 0.01; high-grade: 13.2% versus 9.3%, RR 1.56, 95%CI 1.16to2.11, P < 0.01). Published data meta-analysis (8 RCTs, 3745 participants, 648 infections) demonstrated higher incidence of serious (HR 1.31, 95%CI 1.02to1.68, P = 0.04) and high-grade (HR 1.52, 95%CI 1.17to1.98, P < 0.01) infection with subcutaneous versus intravenous administration. Conclusions: Results suggest increased infection risk with subcutaneous versus intravenous administration, although IPD findings are sensitive to exclusion of one trial with inconsistent results and identified risk-of-bias. Ongoing trials may confirm findings. Clinical surveillance should be considered when switching to subcutaneous administration. PROSPERO registration CRD42020221866/CRD42020125376.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Oncology Pharmacy Practice
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • infection
  • Monoclonal antibody
  • rituximab
  • subcutaneous
  • trastuzuamb

Cite this