Demographic factors such as age, gender and ethnicity, as well as clinical information about diseases and types of treatment, lend perspective on COVID-19 in patients with cancer, according to a report co-authored by Center physicians. Linda Loma University Cancer. The findings, drawn from the largest chart for cancer patients with COVID-19, were published last week in the revised journal Annals of Oncology.
Factors associated with the development of more severe COVID-19 infection among cancer patients included: older age, male sex, non-Hispanic Black race, Hispanic ethnicity, obesity, comorbidities, recent cytotoxic chemotherapy, and hematologic malignancy. The report’s study also showed that patients recently diagnosed with COVID-19 had better outcomes than those who had contracted the virus earlier on the pandemic. The discovery is an encouraging sign that as physicians learn more about the virus, they are also getting better at treating cancer patients with the disease, researchers said.
The report is the third peer-reviewed publication published by COVID-19 and Cancer Consortium (CCC19), one of the first major registration efforts aimed at collecting data on patients with COVID-19 and cancer . The Cancer Center joins more than 120 other cancer centers and organizations from the United States, the European Union, Canada, and Mexico in collecting and analyzing data on adult patients (18 and older) have a routine or previous diagnosis of both cancer and COVID-19 to better understand strategies to mitigate risk factors and outcomes for this particularly vulnerable patient group.
Researchers involved in this CCC19 publication analyzed nearly 5,000 patients with or before active cancer and COVID-19 diagnoses registered between March and November 2020. The Cancer Center contributed 97 patient cases to paper, reporting on information such as demographics, cancer status, anti-cancer treatment type and duration, COVID-19 treatments, and course of the disease.
“When the pandemic hit us, we were completely blind to understanding the course and route of the disease, even though we knew for sure that our cancer patients were very vulnerable, ”Said Gayathri Nagaraj, MD, oncologist at the Cancer Center who contributed to the study. “This is something we had to do for our patients and gain a better understanding of how to walk this fine line of cancer management during the COVID-19 pandemic. ”
Nagaraj said she is inspired and encouraged by the rapid growth of membership and the spirit of collaboration that she has seen stemming from the CCC19 effort and its contribution. Seeding from a series of twitter posts in March 2020 that gained some traction among other oncologists, the CCC19 has moved in to capture much-needed data on COVID-19 outcomes in cancer patients.
“This is one of those situations where you will learn the power of common wisdom. CCC19 was able to bring together these inspiring and wonderful clinicians and researchers who were passionate about planting and learning in times of crisis, ”she said. “Bringing hundreds of researchers and institutions together in such a short space of time is no easy task, and indeed being part of the consortium has certainly been a similar experience. ”
Having contributed a total of 125 cases to the CCC19 to date, Loma Linda University Health will continue its efforts to better understand how COVID-19 affects people living with cancer.
In the meantime, you can also contribute to engagement with CCC19 social media posts and create a discussion on how COVID-19 affected you as a cancer patient or survivor. If you or someone you know is living with cancer and is considering getting the COVID-19 vaccine, check out Nagaraj’s recommendations in this article.