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Cancer Institute Joins National COVID-19 and Cancer Consortium

April 20, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads, specialists with the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute have joined academic cancer centers across the country to examine the virus’ effect on patients with cancer.

The group, called the COVID-19 and Cancer Consortium (CCC19), is led by Vanderbilt University and provides a national registry with input from leaders from the informatics, social media and population health arenas, according to Dr. Peter Yu, physician-in-chief of the Cancer Institute.

“Early reports on the prognosis for cancer patients (and COVID-19) are conflicting and limited,” said Dr. Yu of the impetus for the consortium.

The largest cancer-specific study published to date included just 18 patients with increased risk for severe results. Only five of those being treated for cancer at the time.

“These numbers are too small to understand the true impact of COVID-19 on cancer patients, particularly those who are in active treatment,” Dr. Yu said.

CCC19 includes more than 70 physicians and nurses representing more than 30 institutions and organizations, most of which are large Comprehensive Cancer Centers, as designated by the National Cancer Institute.

“The goal,” Dr. Yu said, “is to collect prospective, granular and uniformly organized information on cancer patients infected with COVID-19 as quickly as possible.”

That data, he said, will help the group develop hypotheses on what factors influence poor outcomes and mortality from COVID-19 in cancer patients.

Dr. Yu said these patients are already immunocompromised as a result of the cancer and its treatments. COVID-19 adds another layer of threat to their health. The fact that they must go regularly into healthcare facilities for bloodwork, imaging tests and treatments like chemotherapy and radiation increases their chance to contract COVID-19.

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