Cancer and SARS-CoV-2 Infection: Diagnostic and Therapeutic Challenges

Cancers (Basel). 2020 Jun 15;12(6):1581. doi: 10.3390/cancers12061581.


In late December 2019, a new infectious viral disease appeared. A new betacoronavirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-Cov-2), has been recognized as the pathogen responsible for this infection. Patients affected by tumors are more vulnerable to infection owing to poor health status, concomitant chronic diseases, and immunosuppressive conditions provoked by both the cancer and antitumor therapies. In this review, we have analyzed some lesser known aspects of the relationship between neoplasms and SARS-CoV-2 infection, starting from the different expression of the ACE2 receptor of the virus in the various neoplastic pathologies, and the roles that different cytokine patterns could have in vulnerability to infection and the appearance of complications. This review also reports the rationale for a possible use of drugs commonly employed in neoplastic therapy, such as bevacizumab, ibrutinib, selinexor, thalidomide, carfilzomib, and PD-1 inhibitors, for the treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Finally, we have highlighted some diagnostic challenges in the recognition of SARS-CoV-2 infection in cancer-infected patients. The combination of these two health problems-tumors and a pandemic virus-could become a catastrophe if not correctly handled. Careful and judicious management of cancer patients with SARS-Cov-2 could support a better outcome for these patients during the current pandemic.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; cancer; cytokines; epidemiology; immunosuppression; prognosis; risk factor; treatment.

Publication types

  • Review