Skip to main content

15-05-2020 | Oncology | News | Article

Editor's pick

PD-1 blockade may not adversely affect COVID-19 outcomes

Author: Shreeya Nanda

medwireNews: Treatment with PD-1 inhibitors does not appear to worsen the severity of SARS-CoV-2 infection in patients with lung cancer, suggests a single-center analysis.

As reported in Cancer Discovery, there was no significant difference in outcomes such as hospitalization or mortality rates among patients who did versus did not have a history of PD-1 blockade.

The researchers therefore write: “These initial results are promising for the safety of continued use of PD-1 blockade during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Further follow up and expanded sample sizes are needed to confirm long term safety and generalizability of our findings. Universal screening efforts are needed to further determine how PD-1 blockade may impact susceptibility to COVID-19.”

Matthew Hellmann and colleagues, from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, USA, identified 69 lung cancer patients who received a laboratory-confirmed diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 at their institution between 12 March and 13 April 2020.

The median age of the participants was 69 years, just over half (52%) were women, 64% had a smoking history of 5 pack–years or more, 80% had active or metastatic disease, while 93% had a diagnosis of non-small-cell lung cancer.

There was no significant difference between the 59% of patients who had previously received PD-1 inhibitor therapy and the 41% who had not with regard to the rates of hospitalization or death, at 68% versus 56% and 28% versus 18%, respectively.

This was also the case for a composite endpoint of admission to an intensive care unit, intubation, or transition to do not intubate status, at a rate of 38% for PD-1 inhibitor-treated patients compared with 35% for those who had not received PD-1 inhibitors.

The findings were similar when patients in the PD-1 inhibitor group were stratified by time since exposure, with the three subgroups being those who had received their most recent dose within 6 months or 6 weeks, and those who received their first dose within 3 months.

Hellmann and co-researchers note that univariate analysis indicated a numerical increase in the risk for COVID-19 severity outcomes with PD-1 inhibitor use, but the odds ratios “all diminished to approximately 1” after adjustment for smoking status.

They also report that at the time of data analysis, nearly two-thirds (62%) of the total study cohort had required hospitalization and almost a quarter (24%) had died.

“These findings from our patients at a single center in New York City add to evidence, supported by reports of outcomes of mostly hospitalized patients with cancer from Hubei province, throughout China, and a cohort largely from northern Italy, that patients with lung cancers are a particularly vulnerable population with high rates of severe COVID-19,” conclude the study authors.

medwireNews is an independent medical news service provided by Springer Healthcare. © 2020 Springer Healthcare part of the Springer Nature Group

15 May 2020: The coronavirus pandemic is affecting all healthcare professionals across the globe. Medicine Matters’ focus, in this difficult time, is the dissemination of the latest data to support you in your research and clinical practice, based on the scientific literature. We will update the information we provide on the site, as the data are published. However, please refer to your own professional and governmental guidelines for the latest guidance in your own country.

Cancer Discov 2020; doi:10.1158/2159-8290.CD-20-0596

Related topics