Background: Patients with lung cancers may have disproportionately severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outcomes. Understanding the patient-specific and cancer-specific features that impact the severity of COVID-19 may inform optimal cancer care during this pandemic.
Patients and methods: We examined consecutive patients with lung cancer and confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 (n = 102) at a single center from 12 March 2020 to 6 May 2020. Thresholds of severity were defined a priori as hospitalization, intensive care unit/intubation/do not intubate ([ICU/intubation/DNI] a composite metric of severe disease), or death. Recovery was defined as >14 days from COVID-19 test and >3 days since symptom resolution. Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) alleles were inferred from MSK-IMPACT (n = 46) and compared with controls with lung cancer and no known non-COVID-19 (n = 5166).
Results: COVID-19 was severe in patients with lung cancer (62% hospitalized, 25% died). Although severe, COVID-19 accounted for a minority of overall lung cancer deaths during the pandemic (11% overall). Determinants of COVID-19 severity were largely patient-specific features, including smoking status and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [odds ratio for severe COVID-19 2.9, 95% confidence interval 1.07-9.44 comparing the median (23.5 pack-years) to never-smoker and 3.87, 95% confidence interval 1.35-9.68, respectively]. Cancer-specific features, including prior thoracic surgery/radiation and recent systemic therapies did not impact severity. Human leukocyte antigen supertypes were generally similar in mild or severe cases of COVID-19 compared with non-COVID-19 controls. Most patients recovered from COVID-19, including 25% patients initially requiring intubation. Among hospitalized patients, hydroxychloroquine did not improve COVID-19 outcomes.
Conclusion: COVID-19 is associated with high burden of severity in patients with lung cancer. Patient-specific features, rather than cancer-specific features or treatments, are the greatest determinants of severity.
Keywords: COVID-19; chemotherapy; immunotherapy/checkpoint blockade; lung cancer; small molecule agents.
Copyright © 2020 European Society for Medical Oncology. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.