Childhood Cancer

Childhood Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors

Prophylactic antibiotics

Children and teens on chemotherapy take antibiotics 2 to 3 days each week to prevent pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP). They usually continue taking the antibiotics for a few months to a year after treatment ends. The antibiotic of choice for PCP prevention is a combination drug containing sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim; it is sold under the brand names Bactrim® and Septra®. This antibiotic can cause gastrointestinal upset, skin rashes, sun sensitivity, and low blood counts. If a substitute is needed, one of the following is used:

  • Pentamidine, administered as an aerosol or through a nebulizer (can be difficult for children because it takes 20 minutes to administer and it smells and tastes bad), or by IV once a month.
  • Dapsone®, pills given orally every day.

We just started the Dapsone® because Katie was starting to buck the nebulizer treatment. (It smells and tastes horrible.) The Bactrim® costs about $3/month, the dapsone about $7/month, and the pentamidine nebulizer treatment is about $300/month!