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      “Door to Treatment” Outcomes of Cancer Patients during the COVID-19 Pandemic

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          The novel coronavirus disease 2019 has become a worldwide threat. We aimed to explore reflections of these unexpected changes to newly diagnosed cancer patients.


          We searched the 2 months after the index case of our country. The first admission day and the first day of intravenous treatment of newly diagnosed patients were recorded.


          In the 60 days measured during the pandemic, the total number of patients on polyclinics was 159/weekdays, and the total applied chemotherapy cycles were 276/week. For comparison, the total numbers in the previous year were 267/weekday and 363/week for polyclinic and applied chemotherapy cycles, respectively. The total number of newly admitted patients in 2020 was 283. For comparison, the number of new patients in the same 60-day period in 2019 was 495. Patients who were admitted for adjuvant treatment required a median of 8 days for the first course, those who were admitted for neoadjuvant treatment required 12 days, and metastatic patients required 14 days; there were no significant differences between treatment types ( p = 0.233). However, the median treatment time was 11.5 and 17 days, in 2020 and in 2019, respectively. A significant difference was observed between the 2 groups ( p < 0.001).


          The effective shift of workers and accurate regulations have not resulted in apparent delays in patient care. While a decrease in the number of patients has detected, faster healthcare service was introduced to newly diagnosed patients. The reason for the decrease in the number of patients should be investigated with new studies.

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          Cancer patients in SARS-CoV-2 infection: a nationwide analysis in China

          China and the rest of the world are experiencing an outbreak of a novel betacoronavirus known as severe acute respiratory syndrome corona virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). 1 By Feb 12, 2020, the rapid spread of the virus had caused 42 747 cases and 1017 deaths in China and cases have been reported in 25 countries, including the USA, Japan, and Spain. WHO has declared 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), caused by SARS-CoV-2, a public health emergency of international concern. In contrast to severe acute respiratory system coronavirus and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, more deaths from COVID-19 have been caused by multiple organ dysfunction syndrome rather than respiratory failure, 2 which might be attributable to the widespread distribution of angiotensin converting enzyme 2—the functional receptor for SARS-CoV-2—in multiple organs.3, 4 Patients with cancer are more susceptible to infection than individuals without cancer because of their systemic immunosuppressive state caused by the malignancy and anticancer treatments, such as chemotherapy or surgery.5, 6, 7, 8 Therefore, these patients might be at increased risk of COVID-19 and have a poorer prognosis. On behalf of the National Clinical Research Center for Respiratory Disease, we worked together with the National Health Commission of the People's Republic of China to establish a prospective cohort to monitor COVID-19 cases throughout China. As of the data cutoff on Jan 31, 2020, we have collected and analysed 2007 cases from 575 hospitals (appendix pp 4–9 for a full list) in 31 provincial administrative regions. All cases were diagnosed with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 acute respiratory disease and were admitted to hospital. We excluded 417 cases because of insufficient records of previous disease history. 18 (1%; 95% CI 0·61–1·65) of 1590 COVID-19 cases had a history of cancer, which seems to be higher than the incidence of cancer in the overall Chinese population (285·83 [0·29%] per 100 000 people, according to 2015 cancer epidemiology statistics 9 ). Detailed information about the 18 patients with cancer with COVID-19 is summarised in the appendix (p 1). Lung cancer was the most frequent type (five [28%] of 18 patients). Four (25%) of 16 patients (two of the 18 patients had unknown treatment status) with cancer with COVID-19 had received chemotherapy or surgery within the past month, and the other 12 (25%) patients were cancer survivors in routine follow-up after primary resection. Compared with patients without cancer, patients with cancer were older (mean age 63·1 years [SD 12·1] vs 48·7 years [16·2]), more likely to have a history of smoking (four [22%] of 18 patients vs 107 [7%] of 1572 patients), had more polypnea (eight [47%] of 17 patients vs 323 [23%] of 1377 patients; some data were missing on polypnea), and more severe baseline CT manifestation (17 [94%] of 18 patients vs 1113 [71%] of 1572 patients), but had no significant differences in sex, other baseline symptoms, other comorbidities, or baseline severity of x-ray (appendix p 2). Most importantly, patients with cancer were observed to have a higher risk of severe events (a composite endpoint defined as the percentage of patients being admitted to the intensive care unit requiring invasive ventilation, or death) compared with patients without cancer (seven [39%] of 18 patients vs 124 [8%] of 1572 patients; Fisher's exact p=0·0003). We observed similar results when the severe events were defined both by the above objective events and physician evaluation (nine [50%] of 18 patients vs 245 [16%] of 1572 patients; Fisher's exact p=0·0008). Moreover, patients who underwent chemotherapy or surgery in the past month had a numerically higher risk (three [75%] of four patients) of clinically severe events than did those not receiving chemotherapy or surgery (six [43%] of 14 patients; figure ). These odds were further confirmed by logistic regression (odds ratio [OR] 5·34, 95% CI 1·80–16·18; p=0·0026) after adjusting for other risk factors, including age, smoking history, and other comorbidities. Cancer history represented the highest risk for severe events (appendix p 3). Among patients with cancer, older age was the only risk factor for severe events (OR 1·43, 95% CI 0·97–2·12; p=0·072). Patients with lung cancer did not have a higher probability of severe events compared with patients with other cancer types (one [20%] of five patients with lung cancer vs eight [62%] of 13 patients with other types of cancer; p=0·294). Additionally, we used a Cox regression model to evaluate the time-dependent hazards of developing severe events, and found that patients with cancer deteriorated more rapidly than those without cancer (median time to severe events 13 days [IQR 6–15] vs 43 days [20–not reached]; p<0·0001; hazard ratio 3·56, 95% CI 1·65–7·69, after adjusting for age; figure). Figure Severe events in patients without cancer, cancer survivors, and patients with cancer (A) and risks of developing severe events for patients with cancer and patients without cancer (B) ICU=intensive care unit. In this study, we analysed the risk for severe COVID-19 in patients with cancer for the first time, to our knowledge; only by nationwide analysis can we follow up patients with rare but important comorbidities, such as cancer. We found that patients with cancer might have a higher risk of COVID-19 than individuals without cancer. Additionally, we showed that patients with cancer had poorer outcomes from COVID-19, providing a timely reminder to physicians that more intensive attention should be paid to patients with cancer, in case of rapid deterioration. Therefore, we propose three major strategies for patients with cancer in this COVID-19 crisis, and in future attacks of severe infectious diseases. First, an intentional postponing of adjuvant chemotherapy or elective surgery for stable cancer should be considered in endemic areas. Second, stronger personal protection provisions should be made for patients with cancer or cancer survivors. Third, more intensive surveillance or treatment should be considered when patients with cancer are infected with SARS-CoV-2, especially in older patients or those with other comorbidities.
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            Clinical characteristics of COVID-19-infected cancer patients: a retrospective case study in three hospitals within Wuhan, China

             L. Zhang,  F. Zhu,  L. Xie (2020)
            Background Cancer patients are regarded as a highly vulnerable group in the current Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. To date, the clinical characteristics of COVID-19-infected cancer patients remain largely unknown. Patients and methods In this retrospective cohort study, we included cancer patients with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 from three designated hospitals in Wuhan, China. Clinical data were collected from medical records from 13 January 2020 to 26 February 2020. Univariate and multivariate analyses were carried out to assess the risk factors associated with severe events defined as a condition requiring admission to an intensive care unit, the use of mechanical ventilation, or death. Results A total of 28 COVID-19-infected cancer patients were included; 17 (60.7%) patients were male. Median (interquartile range) age was 65.0 (56.0–70.0) years. Lung cancer was the most frequent cancer type (n = 7; 25.0%). Eight (28.6%) patients were suspected to have hospital-associated transmission. The following clinical features were shown in our cohort: fever (n = 23, 82.1%), dry cough (n = 22, 81%), and dyspnoea (n = 14, 50.0%), along with lymphopaenia (n = 23, 82.1%), high level of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (n = 23, 82.1%), anaemia (n = 21, 75.0%), and hypoproteinaemia (n = 25, 89.3%). The common chest computed tomography (CT) findings were ground-glass opacity (n = 21, 75.0%) and patchy consolidation (n = 13, 46.3%). A total of 15 (53.6%) patients had severe events and the mortality rate was 28.6%. If the last antitumour treatment was within 14 days, it significantly increased the risk of developing severe events [hazard ratio (HR) = 4.079, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.086–15.322, P = 0.037]. Furthermore, patchy consolidation on CT on admission was associated with a higher risk of developing severe events (HR = 5.438, 95% CI 1.498–19.748, P = 0.010). Conclusions Cancer patients show deteriorating conditions and poor outcomes from the COVID-19 infection. It is recommended that cancer patients receiving antitumour treatments should have vigorous screening for COVID-19 infection and should avoid treatments causing immunosuppression or have their dosages decreased in case of COVID-19 coinfection.
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              Patients with Cancer Appear More Vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2: A Multicenter Study during the COVID-19 Outbreak

              In a study of 105 patients with cancer and 536 without, all with confirmed COVID-19, cancer was predictive of more severe disease, with stage IV cancer, hematologic cancer, and lung cancer being associated with worse outcomes.

                Author and article information

                S. Karger AG (Allschwilerstrasse 10, P.O. Box · Postfach · Case postale, CH–4009, Basel, Switzerland · Schweiz · Suisse, Phone: +41 61 306 11 11, Fax: +41 61 306 12 34, )
                4 December 2020
                : 1-6
                aDepartment of Medical Oncology, Institute of Oncology, Istanbul University, Istanbul, Turkey
                bDepartment of Internal Medicine, Division of Medical Oncology, Istanbul Faculty of Medicine, Istanbul University, Istanbul, Turkey
                Author notes
                *Naziye Ak, Institute of Oncology, Istanbul University, Millet Cad. 113, TR–34130 Istanbul (Turkey), naziyeak@
                Copyright © 2020 by S. Karger AG, Basel

                This article is made available via the PMC Open Access Subset for unrestricted re-use and analyses in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic or until permissions are revoked in writing. Upon expiration of these permissions, PMC is granted a perpetual license to make this article available via PMC and Europe PMC, consistent with existing copyright protections.

                Page count
                Figures: 1, Tables: 4, References: 16, Pages: 6
                Anticancer Section / Original Paper


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