COVID-19 and cancer

Last updated

Cancer is one of the underlying diseases that increases the risk of COVID-19 developing to a serious illness. [1] [2]


Risk of severe illness

The NHS of the United Kingdom has warned that those undergoing active chemotherapy or radiotherapy for lung cancer and those with bone marrow cancers are vulnerable to serious illness if they become infected with COVID-19. [3] [4] In Sweden, individuals who recently got chemotherapy were found to be at a higher risk for developing severe illness following COVID-19. [5]


The European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) recommends that oncologists should remain ready to adjust their clinical routines in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Recommendations for using telemedicine services, reducing clinic visits, switching intravenous therapies to subcutaneous or oral therapies, when possible. ESMO also recommends advising patients on infection control. [6]

The NHS in England stresses that individual patient decisions have to be made by multidisciplinary teams. [3] NHS has also established priority groups for those receiving anticancer treatments such that those with higher chances of success get prioritized for treatment over others. [3]

The European Society of Surgical Oncology advises against seeing patients with cancer who are over 70 years of age in clinic, unless it is urgent. [7]

Related Research Articles


Anakinra, sold under the brand name Kineret, is a biopharmaceutical medication used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, cryopyrin-associated periodic syndromes, familial Mediterranean fever, and Still's disease. It is a recombinant and slightly modified version of the human interleukin 1 receptor antagonist protein. It is marketed by Swedish Orphan Biovitrum. Anakinra is administered by subcutaneous injection.

Nicholas J. Vogelzang is a medical oncologist with Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada (CCCN). He serves as Medical Director of the Research Executive Committee and Associate Chair of the Developmental Therapeutics and Genitourinary Committees for US Oncology Research. His research interests include clinical trials for genitourinary malignancies and mesothelioma.

Adjuvant therapy, also known as adjunct therapy, adjuvant care, or augmentation therapy, is therapy that is given in addition to the primary or initial therapy to maximize its effectiveness. The surgeries and complex treatment regimens used in cancer therapy have led the term to be used mainly to describe adjuvant cancer treatments. An example of such adjuvant therapy is the additional treatment usually given after surgery where all detectable disease has been removed, but where there remains a statistical risk of relapse due to the presence of undetected disease. If known disease is left behind following surgery, then further treatment is not technically adjuvant.

Anthroposophic medicine is a form of alternative medicine based on pseudoscientific and occult notions. Devised in the 1920s by Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) in conjunction with Ita Wegman (1876–1943), anthroposophical medicine draws on Steiner's spiritual philosophy, which he called anthroposophy. Practitioners employ a variety of treatment techniques based upon anthroposophic precepts, including massage, exercise, counselling, and substances.


Atrasentan is an experimental drug that is being studied for the treatment of various types of cancer, including non-small cell lung cancer. It is also being investigated as a therapy for diabetic kidney disease.

Selective internal radiation therapy

Selective internal radiation therapy (SIRT), also known as transarterial radioembolization (TARE), radioembolization or intra-arterial microbrachytherapy is a form of radiation therapy used in interventional radiology to treat cancer. It is generally for selected patients with surgically unresectable cancers, especially hepatocellular carcinoma or metastasis to the liver. The treatment involves injecting tiny microspheres of radioactive material into the arteries that supply the tumor, where the spheres lodge in the small vessels of the tumor. Because this treatment combines radiotherapy with embolization, it is also called radioembolization. The chemotherapeutic analogue is called chemoembolization, of which transcatheter arterial chemoembolization (TACE) is the usual form.


Afatinib, sold under the brand name Gilotrif among others, is a medication used to treat non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC). It belongs to the tyrosine kinase inhibitor family of medications. It is taken by mouth.

Ramucirumab is a fully human monoclonal antibody (IgG1) developed for the treatment of solid tumors. This drug was developed by ImClone Systems Inc. It was isolated from a native phage display library from Dyax.

Oncology Branch of medicine dealing with cancer

Oncology is a branch of medicine that deals with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer. A medical professional who practices oncology is an oncologist. The name's etymological origin is the Greek word ὄγκος (óngkos), meaning 1. "burden, volume, mass" and 2. "barb", and the Greek word λόγος (logos), meaning "study". The neoclassical term oncology was used from 1618, initially in neo-Greek, in cognizance of Galen's work on abnormal tumors, De tumoribus præter naturam.


Rucaparib, sold under the brand name Rubraca, is a PARP inhibitor used as an anti-cancer agent. Rucaparib is a first-in-class pharmaceutical drug targeting the DNA repair enzyme poly-ADP ribose polymerase-1 (PARP-1). It is approved in the United States and in Europe as third line treatment in BRCA-mutated ovarian cancer.


Nivolumab, sold under the brand name Opdivo, is a medication used to treat a number of types of cancer. This includes melanoma, lung cancer, malignant pleural mesothelioma, renal cell carcinoma, Hodgkin lymphoma, head and neck cancer, urothelial carcinoma, colon cancer, esophageal squamous cell carcinoma, liver cancer, gastric cancer, and esophageal or gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) cancer. It is used by slow injection into a vein.

Pembrolizumab Pharmaceutical drug used in cancer treatment

Pembrolizumab, sold under the brand name Keytruda, is a humanized antibody used in cancer immunotherapy that treats melanoma, lung cancer, head and neck cancer, Hodgkin lymphoma, stomach cancer, and cervical cancer. It is given by slow injection into a vein.

Cancer and nausea

Cancer and nausea are associated in about fifty percent of people affected by cancer. This may be as a result of the cancer itself, or as an effect of the treatment such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or other medication such as opiates used for pain relief. About 70 to 80% of people undergoing chemotherapy experience nausea or vomiting. Nausea and vomiting may also occur in people not receiving treatment, often as a result of the disease involving the gastrointestinal tract, electrolyte imbalance, or as a result of anxiety. Nausea and vomiting may be experienced as the most unpleasant side effects of cytotoxic drugs and may result in patients delaying or refusing further radiotherapy or chemotherapy.

PARAMOUNT trial Clinical trial studying non-small-cell lung carcinoma

The PARAMOUNT trial is a clinical trial studying non-small-cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC). The trial was sponsored by Eli Lilly and Company and was conducted in several European countries and Canada. It was registered in November 2008 and was projected to end in September 2013.


Durvalumab is an FDA-approved immunotherapy for cancer, developed by Medimmune/AstraZeneca. It is a human immunoglobulin G1 kappa (IgG1κ) monoclonal antibody that blocks the interaction of programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1) with the PD-1 (CD279).

Cancer in adolescents and young adults is cancer which occurs in those between the ages of 15 and 39. This occurs in about 70,000 people a year in the United States—accounting for about 5 percent of cancers. This is about six times the number of cancers diagnosed in children ages 0–14. Globally, nearly 1 million young adults between the ages of 20 and 39 were diagnosed with cancer in 2012, and more than 350,000 people in this age range died from cancer.

UK Coronavirus Cancer Monitoring Project

The UK Coronavirus Cancer Monitoring Project or UKCCMP is a clinician-led reporting project established to safeguard, monitor and protect individuals living with cancer from COVID-19 across the United Kingdom.

Metronomic therapy is a new type of chemotherapy in which anti-cancer drugs are administered in a lower dose than the maximum tolerated dose repetitively over a long period to treat cancers with fewer side effects. Metronomic therapy is shown to affect both tumor microenvironment and tumor cells to achieve its therapeutic effects. Metronomic therapy is also cost-effective as a lower dose is used compared to conventional chemotherapy. The use of metronomic therapy has been extensively investigated and can be advantageous in selected group of patients. Yet, more clinical trials are necessary to generalize the method.


Berzosertib is a drug originally invented by Vertex Pharmaceuticals and licensed to Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany for development. It acts as a potent inhibitor of the enzyme ataxia telangiectasia and Rad3 related (ATR) and with lower potency as an inhibitor of ATM serine/threonine kinase (ATM). These enzymes are both involved in detecting DNA damage as part of cell cycle checkpoints during cell division. By inhibiting their activity, berzosertib interferes with the ability of rapidly dividing cells to detect damage to DNA, and this makes it useful as a potential treatment for some forms of cancer by causing accumulation of DNA damage in the cancer cells and thus reducing their viability. It has progressed furthest in trials for the treatment of ovarian cancer, though also shows activity against numerous other cancer types.

Adele Kay Fielding is a British physician who is a Professor of Haematology at University College London. Fielding was elected President of the British Society for Haematology in 2020.


  1. Dhodapkar M, Dhodapkar K, Ahmed R (January 2021). "Viral Immunity and Vaccines in Hematologic Malignancies: Implications for COVID-19". Blood Cancer Discovery. 2 (1): 9–12. doi: 10.1158/2643-3230.BCD-20-0177 . PMC   8486288 . PMID   34604788.
  2. "COVID-19 och cancer". Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  3. 1 2 3 Burki, Talha Khan (1 May 2020). "Cancer guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic". The Lancet Oncology. 21 (5): 629–630. doi: 10.1016/S1470-2045(20)30217-5 . ISSN   1470-2045. PMC   7270910 . PMID   32247319.
  4. "Clinical guide for the management of noncoronavirus patients requiring acute treatment: Cancer" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 July 2020. Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  5. "Förekomst och utfall av covid-19 hos personer med cancer" (PDF).
  6. "Cancer Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic: An ESMO Guide for Patients". Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  7. "ESSO Statement on COVID-19 :: ESSO". Archived from the original on 5 November 2020. Retrieved 13 May 2020.