Thompson Cancer Survival Center, a member of Covenant Health, has joined The COVID-19 and Cancer Consortium, a national organization whose goal is to understand the effects of COVID-19 on cancer patients. Initial data suggests these patients have a higher risk of serious complications due to coronavirus than non-cancer patients, and the consortium hopes to rapidly gather and share knowledge about this compromised patient population to improve health outcomes. The organization is also studying the effects of COVID-19 on patients who have a previous history of cancer.
Already at a higher risk for illness given their diagnosis, cancer patients may experience more severe COVID-19 complications and be more likely to be admitted to intensive care or placed on a ventilator. Studies also suggest cancer patients may be more likely to die from COVID-19 than non-cancer patients. Data gathered through the consortium’s efforts will be used to tailor the most effective treatments for this fragile patient population.
Medical oncologist David Chism, MD, will serve as principal investigator overseeing the consortium program at Thompson Cancer Survival Center, including clinical trials using medications such as hydroxychloroquine, remdesivir and lopinavir. FDA-approved and indicated for other medical conditions, these medicines are being studied as experimental COVID-19 treatments.
“Cancer patients who are often immunocompromised and require frequent hospitalizations face unique risks from COVID-19,” says Dr. Chism. “Through these clinical trials, we will collect and report data about our patients’ cancer diagnoses, symptoms, and outcomes to rapidly gain an understanding of how COVID-19 is affecting cancer patients in East Tennessee and throughout our nation.”
The consortium is comprised of more than 50 cancer centers across the nation, including Cleveland Clinic’s Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Mayo Clinic and MD Anderson Cancer Center. Thompson Cancer Survival Center is currently the only cancer center in East Tennessee participating in the program, and consortium studies may involve patients receiving cancer care at Thompson Cancer Survival Center locations, Thompson Oncology Group practices and Covenant Health hospitals.
“We are looking forward to contributing to The COVID-19 and Cancer Consortium’s goal of accumulating data to help COVID-19 patients with cancer,” says Scott Warwick, president and chief administrative officer at Thompson Cancer Survival Center. “Since this is a novel coronavirus, collecting and analyzing data on how it impacts cancer patients helps our community, nation and world as a whole. The more collective data we have on the impact of COVID-19 in cancer patients, the better understanding we will have on how to appropriately address the health and social issues it may create for them.”