MUSC begins COVID-19 study to understand impacts on cancer patients

Updated: Feb. 12, 2021 at 6:49 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Researchers with MUSC’s Hollings Cancer Center are working to understand how COVID-19 can impact cancer patients and their treatments as a part of a nationwide study.

Participants must have had a positive covid-19 test within 14 days of enrollment, and they must be receiving treatment for their cancer to be eligible.

Hollings Cancer Center’s role in this study began in January. It’s an effort to discover how COVID-19 may how cancer grows or spreads and if cancer treatments impact a person’s ability to fight off COVID-19.

Another goal of the study is to find out if certain cancer types make a patient more vulnerable to severe complications from a COVID-19 infection.

“It’s important because if we can detect there are certain risk factors that can be modified, maybe we can adjust our treatments for patients with cancer,” Dr. David Cachia said.

For now, there’s just not enough data available to help doctors understand and address these issues.

“The goal of the study is to enroll 2,000 patients with cancer, and then follow those patients for up to two years,” Cachia said. “The reason to study these patients over a longer period of time is to gather as much information as possible…so that we can say down the line that we have a better understanding of COVID-19 in the cancer patient population.”

While cancer patients undergoing active treatment were not included in clinical trials used to develop COVID-19 vaccines produced by Moderna and Pfizer, Cachia recommends cancer patients talk to their doctors about the risks and benefits of the COVID-19 vaccines.

“At the moment…unless there are specific issues that limit the patient from getting the vaccine, patients should still get the vaccine. But that is only after a discussion for each individual case with the treating physician. It’s a case by case basis,” Cachia said.

Cachia said it’s important to determine the best time for a cancer patient to receive a vaccination based on their cancer treatment schedule.

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