Mesothelioma Physicians Concerned by Report of Increased COVID-19 Mortality

A study analyzing characteristics of patients with thoracic cancers like malignant mesothelioma who developed COVID-19 revealed that patients who had received chemotherapy within three months of their diagnosis with the virus had a significantly increased risk of death. The information was presented ahead of the 2020 American Society of Clinical Oncology Virtual Scientific Program, and it has raised significant concern among physicians treating patients with malignant mesothelioma.

Chemotherapy Increases COVID-19 Mortality In Patients With Thoracic Cancers Like Mesothelioma

The report was assembled from the global TERAVOLT Consortium registry, and is of particular interest to patients diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma. According to Leora Horn, MD, MSc, the Ingram Associate Professor of Cancer Research and clinical director of the Thoracic Oncology Program at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, “Prior administration of chemotherapy is associated with increased risk of death [from COVID-19] while immunotherapy and tyrosine kinase inhibitors are not.” 

Mesothelioma physicians trying to provide the best possible care to their patients in the face of the pandemic have been trying to determine their best approach, particularly in light of earlier reports that cancer patients generally were more vulnerable to dying from the virus than those without comorbidities. The researchers set out to identify the various characteristics and outcomes of patients with thoracic cancers who developed COVID-19.

Comprehensive Study Included 400 Patients Over Seven Weeks

Though the COVID-19 virus is a new development, international concern over outcomes for mesothelioma patients and those with other thoracic cancers spurred immediate acceptance of the registry. The first patient entry was dated March 20th and the last was May 8th, with 400 patient studies from more than 25 countries included.

The registry noted significant differences among survivors as well as among those who died, but perhaps most notable was the fact that far fewer thoracic cancer patients who recovered from COVID had recently had chemotherapy, while of those who died. 45% had undergone chemotherapy within the past three months. Far fewer of those who succumbed to the virus had received either immunotherapy or another targeted therapy. The deaths were considered to be caused by COVID-19 in 79% of cases. 

If you have been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma you need to take special care during the time of COVID-19. For information on the best medical treatments, contact the Patient Advocates at at  1-800-692-8608.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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