- Results from a descriptive case study presented last week at the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) 2021 virtual World Conference on Lung Cancer, 08 – 14 September, highlight the importance of COVID-19 vaccination in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM), in particular.
- Analysis of clinical data showed that 18% of patients with this pleural tumor type who were attended at Vall d’Hebron University Hospital (HUVH) between March 2020 and March 2021, tested positive for SARS-COV-2 infection.
- Among these patients, 54% died due to COVID-19 infection. Since the subsequent rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, no positive cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection have been registered in MPM patients attended at Vall d’Hebron.
Selected to first outing during a mini oral session at the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer’s (IASLC) 2021 virtual World Conference on Lung Cancer (08 – 14 September), results from the analysis of clinical data from 38 malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) patients who were attended at the Vall d’Hebron University Hospital (HUVH) during the first wave of the pandemic, were recently presented by Susana Cedres, Medical Oncologist, the Vall d’Hebron Medical Oncology Department directed by Josep Tabernero, and a Clinical Investigator of VHIO’s Thoracic Tumors & Head and Neck Group, headed by Enriqueta Felip.
The data, presented during a session on Current Status and Future Prospects of Pleural Mesothelioma and Thymoma, which also featured in the meeting’s media program, showed that seven of these patients were diagnosed with COVID-19 by a positive PCR test, and 54% (five patients) died due to SARS-CoV-2 infection.
MPM, although rare, is a highly aggressive pleural cancer associated with asbestos exposure and with limited survival despite systemic therapy. “This study, performed during the pre-vaccine period of the pandemic, once again demonstrates the importance of vaccination against COVID-19. In fact, since the rollout of vaccination, no other cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection have been registered among patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma attended at our Hospital”, observed Susana Cedres.
Presented data showed that the seven patients with MPM who were diagnosed with COVID-19 infection during the first wave of the pandemic (between March 2020 and March 2021) had a median age of 62 years, were in the majority male, four (57%), and four were non-smokers and 3 former smokers. The most common comorbidities were hypertension, ischemic heart disease, and chronic obstructive disease. Four patients were on anticoagulants or asprin.
At the moment of COVID-19 infection, two patients were receiving oncological treatment: one was treated with chemotherapy, and the other received thoracic radiotherapy. Regarding the clinical onset of SARS-CoV-2 infection, three patients were asymptomatic and four were symptomatic; all of whom had fever and dyspnea. Among the seven infected patients, six were hospitalized with a median 12 days’ hospitalization. All of them required oxygen and four developed bilateral pneumonia. Four patients had complete blood analysis and all presented lymphopenia and high levels of D-dimer as well as serum IL6.
In total five MPM patients died, four directly due to COVID-19 infection. The median overall survival (OS) was 17.8 months from cancer diagnosis and 0.4 months since COVID-19 diagnosis. “Malignant pleural mesothelioma patients are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. If a patient with this particular disease is diagnosed with the virus, he or she is at increased risk of mortality. Infection must therefore be prevented and we know that the vaccine works. Since the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, we haven’t seen any other cases of the virus in this patient population attended at Vall d’Hebron”, concluded Susana Cedres.
The International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) is the only global organization dedicated solely to the study of lung cancer and other thoracic malignancies. Reflective of her internationally renowned expertise within the field, Enriqueta Felip, Chief of Section of Medical Oncology at Vall d’Hebron and Principal Investigator of VHIO’s Thoracic Tumors & Head and Neck Group, serves on IASLC’s Board of Directors (2019-2021) as Secretary, alongside IASLC’s President, Tetsuya Mitsudomi, a Professor at the Division of Thoracic Surgery, Department of Surgery, Kindai University Faculty of Medicine, Osaka-Sayama, Japan.