Cancer patients with thoracic disease are considered to be at a higher risk of mortality due to SARS-CoV-2 infection, compared with the general population. However, the study results available are limited due to being from single institutions and small sample sizes.
In order to overcome these limitations, a global registry called the Thoracic cancERs international coVid 19 cOLlaboraTion (TERAVOLT; a collaboration between 160 institutions across the globe) has been set up with the goal of understanding the relationship between patients with thoracic malignancies and COVID-19, and ultimately guiding oncology professionals on how to manage these patients.
Supported by the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO), the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) and the European Thoracic Oncology Platform (ETOP), it was reported that since 12 April 2020, 160 institutions have shown interest in TERAVOLT, ranging across 21 countries.
The initial findings have been reported from eight countries and include 200 patients with COVID-19 and thoracic cancers. A total of 75.5% of participants had non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and 73.5% of all patients had stage IV cancer. Out of the 200 patients, 147 (73.5%) had received systemic therapies, including, TKIs (19%), chemotherapy (32.7%) and immunotherapy (23.1%), and 13.6% had received a chemotherapy–immunotherapy combination.
The study demonstrated that patients with more than one comorbidity had higher rate of hospitalization and mortality. There was also an increased risk of hospitalization if the patient had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
However, in contrast to what has been previously suggested, tumor type and cancer therapy did not impact survival. In addition, a multivariate analysis of the data suggested that no factors were associated with risk of mortality.
Overall, the initial results from the TERAVOLT consortium suggest that oncology professionals need to consider cancer-specific mortality and risk of death of COVID-19 when treating cancer patients infected with the virus. Garassino concludes by stating that TERAVOLT will continue to collect and share data regarding factors associated with COVID-19.
Hopefully, this will eventually guide oncology professionals on how to tailor cancer treatment based on an individual’s risk of severe SARS-CoV-2 infection.