UKCCMP Finds No Evidence of Higher COVID-19 Risk in Patients on Cancer Therapies

Dawn O'Shea

June 08, 2020

The UK Coronavirus Cancer Monitoring Project (UKCCMP) found no evidence that cancer patients on cytotoxic chemotherapy or other anticancer treatment are at an increased risk of mortality from COVID-19 disease compared with those not on active treatment.

Individuals with cancer, particularly those receiving systemic anticancer treatments, have been postulated to be at increased risk of mortality from COVID-19, but evidence from large, multicentre studies to support this assumption are scarce.

UKCCMP is the first COVID-19 clinical registry that enables near real-time reports to front-line doctors about the effects of COVID-19 on patients with cancer.

Patients included in the registry are those who have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 on reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay from a nose or throat swab. Patients with a radiological or clinical diagnosis of COVID-19 without a positive RT-PCR test, were excluded.

From 18 March 2020 to 26 April 2020, 800 patients with a diagnosis of cancer and symptomatic COVID-19 were studied.

Over half (52%) had mild COVID-19. Twenty-eight per cent (n=226) of patients died. Risk of death was significantly associated with advancing patient age (OR, 9.42; 95% CI, 6.56-10.02; P<.0001), being male (OR, 1.67; 95% CI, 1.19-2.34; P=.003) and the presence of other co-morbidities such as hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

A total of 281 (35%) patients had received cytotoxic chemotherapy within four weeks before testing positive for COVID-19. After adjusting for age, gender, and co-morbidities, chemotherapy in the past four weeks had no significant effect on mortality from COVID-19 disease when compared with patients with cancer who had not received recent chemotherapy (OR, 1.18; 95% CI, 0.81-1.72; P=.380). The effect on mortality was nonsignificant for patients with immunotherapy, hormonal therapy, targeted therapy or radiotherapy use within the past four weeks.

Lee LYW, Cazier JB, Starkey T, Turnbull CD, Kerr R, Middleton G. COVID-19 mortality in patients with cancer on chemotherapy or other anticancer treatments: a prospective cohort study. Lancet. 2020 May 28 [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)31173-9. PMID: 32473682.  View full text 

This article originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.


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