Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2020 Sep;24(18):9760-9764. doi: 10.26355/eurrev_202009_23070.
OBJECTIVE: Patients with cancer are usually immunosuppressive and susceptible to COVID-19 infection. Asymptomatic COVID-19 cases are infective and cannot be identified by symptom-based screening. There is an urgent need to control virus spread by asymptomatic carriers at cancer centres. We aim to describe the characteristics, screening methods, and outcomes of cancer patients with asymptomatic COVID-19 infection and to further explore anti-tumour treatment for this population.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: We reviewed patients with cancer who were admitted to Hubei Cancer Hospital in Wuhan from February 1, 2020, to April 4, 2020. We collected demographic data, laboratory findings, treatment information, nucleic acid and serum test results, chest computed tomography (CT) information and survival status of cancer patients diagnosed with asymptomatic COVID-19 infection.
RESULTS: A total of 16 cancer patients with asymptomatic COVID-19 infection were confirmed. The most common cancer type was breast cancer. The blood cell counts of most patients were in the normal range. Lymphocytes of 100% of asymptomatic carriers were in the normal range. Thirteen (81.3%) patients were positive for virus-specific IgM antibodies, and three (18.8%) were positive by PCR; only one (6.3%) patient showed novel coronavirus pneumonia features on CT. Three (18.3%) patients died, and the cause of death was considered malignancy caused by delaying anti-tumour treatment.
CONCLUSIONS: Our study shows that the lymphocytes of 100% of asymptomatic carriers were in the normal range. This result indicates that the host immunity of asymptomatic carriers is not significantly disrupted by COVID-19. Single PCR detection is not sufficient to screen among asymptomatic individuals, and a combination of PCR tests, serological tests and CT is of great importance. Unless the tumour is life-threatening or rapidly progressing, we advise restarting active anti-tumour therapy after PCR tests become negative.