During a five-year period, 932 clinical isolates from cancer patients treated in a Brazilian reference centre were identified as corynebacteria; 86% of the cultures came from patients who had been clinically and microbiologically classified as infected and 77.1% of these patients had been hospitalised (71.1% from surgical wards). The adult solid tumour was the most common underlying malignant disease (66.7%). The univariate and multivariate analyses showed that hospitalised patients had a six-fold greater risk (OR = 5.5, 95% CI = 1.15-26.30 p = 0.033) related to 30-day mortality. The predominant species were Corynebacterium amycolatum
(44.7%), Corynebacterium minutissimum
(18.3%) and Corynebacterium pseudodiphtheriticum
(8.5%). The upper urinary tracts, surgical wounds, lower respiratory tracts, ulcerated tumours and indwelling venous catheters were the most frequent sources of C. amycolatum
strains. Corynebacterium jeikeium
infection occurred primarily in neutropenic patients who have used venous catheters, while infection caused by C. amycolatum
and other species emerged mainly in patients with solid tumours.