Systematic reviews and meta-analyses have made a major contribution to the evidence-based management of infections in cancer patients. We review the contribution of systematic reviews with regard to antibiotic, antifungal, antiviral and Pneumocystis pneumonia prophylaxis; antibiotic and antifungal treatment of febrile neutropenia; use of intravenous immunoglobulins, and infection control strategies during neutropenia. We focus on limitations of randomized controlled trials and the way systematic reviews have addressed and resolved some of these limitations. Systematic reviews allow us to ask the right clinical question; consider the most relevant clinical outcome; address the problem of small trials and rare outcomes; address external validity and bias in randomized controlled trials, and point at gaps in evidence.

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