Compared to the general population, cancer patients have a 13% increased risk of death from COVID-19 infection, ultimately resulting in a 30-day mortality of risk of approximately 13% as well.1 What is not known however, is if hospitalised cancer patients present with different symptoms, and what effect solid tumours have on the mortality risk associated with COVID-19. Collaborating with Sciensano, a research team from the Institut Jules Bordet compared 30-day mortality between patients with prior and current solid tumours, and patients without cancer who were hospitalised with COVID-19.
The study identified 12,407 patients who were hospitalised with COVID-19, of which, 8.7% (n=1187) had had solid tumours. In a surprising finding, these patients typically presented with less symptoms, with lower rates of fevers/chills, fatigue, cough and dyspnoea. Radiological lung abnormalities were also seen less in these patients, compared to non-cancer patients with COVID-19. Despite a typically less sinister presentation, patients with solid tumours had a higher 30-day mortality rate compared to non-cancer COVID-19 patients; 31.7% vs. 20.0%, respectively. Patients with solid tumours also had a higher likelihood of death at every age group, and patients with comorbidities were also at an increased risk of death.2
In light of these results, the study concluded that patients with solid tumours should be considered for vaccination, regardless of age. The research team intends to move forward to a 2nd phase, in which the clinical characteristics and the occurrence of severe events in patients with active and non-active solid cancers will be compared, as well as the 30-day and 3-month mortality rate. In a further sub-analysis, changes to cancer treatment and management in light of the constraints that the pandemic imposes will be assessed. A subgroup analysis of the same study will investigate toxicities and outcomes, for example, in patients who receive immunotherapy.