BACKGROUND: Invasive fungal infections are associated with morbidity and mortality in neutropenia secondary to hematological malignancies. Empirical antifungal agents are used to reduce their consequences. Caspofungin is the only echinocandin approved for this indication. Micafungin was compared with caspofungin for the treatment of patients with hematological malignancies and prolonged neutropenia.METHODS: A retrospective cohort study was conducted involving patients who had hematological malignancies with profound neutropenia for a minimum of 10 days, and received empirical micafungin or caspofungin for a minimum of five days, between April 2005 and November 2009. Successful outcome was based on a composite end point: survival for a minimum of seven days following antifungal cessation, successful treatment of baseline fungal infection, absence of adverse events and absence of breakthrough fungal infection. Fungal infections were defined according to revised definitions of invasive fungal disease from the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer/Invasive Fungal Infections Cooperative Group and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Mycoses Study Group (EORTC-MSG) criteria, with modification of the diagnostic imaging criteria.RESULTS: Micafungin had similar overall success to caspofungin (60.4% [29 of 48] versus 57.3% [47 of 82], respectively; P=0.729). Survival was higher in the micafungin group compared with the caspofungin group (100% [48 of 48] versus 89% [73 of 82]; P=0.02). No baseline invasive fungal infections were identified in the micafungin group, compared with three proven infections treated successfully with caspofungin (3.7%; P=0.18). Three proven breakthrough infections were observed in the micafungin group (three of 48 [27.3%]) compared with none in the caspofungin group (zero of 82; P=0.02).CONCLUSION: Micafungin has similar efficacy to caspofungin as empirical antifungal therapy in febrile neutropenic patients with hematological malignancies. Verification of these results in a prospective trial is warranted.