April 30, 2020

Initiative to explore COVID-19 outcomes in cancer patients

A multi-institutional consortium led by Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC) is collecting data on cancer patients with COVID-19 as part of a rapid effort to understand the unique effects the coronavirus has on this vulnerable population.

Early data on outcomes for cancer patients with COVID-19 will be released during the ASCO20 Virtual Scientific Program by a multi-institutional consortium.

The COVID-19 and Cancer Consortium (CCC19) was formed to rapidly collect data as part of an effort to understand the unique effects the coronavirus has on this vulnerable population. Participants include members of the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO), institutions that are National Cancer Institute Designated Cancer Centers, researchers from several nations as well as community-based oncologists within the United States.

“This all started on Twitter with exchanges between oncologists and cancer researchers, and it was very informal in the beginning,” said Jeremy Warner, MD, MS, associate professor of Medicine and Biomedical Informatics at Vanderbilt University. “We worked backward to formalize it and started with five founding institutional members.”

Warner set up a REDCap-based survey and data collection system based at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC).

“It’s a clinically oriented survey that is split into three big sections,” he said. “One section is questions about a patient’s baseline clinical status, predisposing conditions and medications. Then there is a section on the COVID-19 diagnosis, the illness, the complications and the outcomes. Then there is a form dedicated to the patient’s cancer details. When was their diagnosis? What is their current cancer status? Are they on treatment? Are they responding to treatment? Are they in remission? Those are the core of the questions.”

The survey is designed to be electronic health record (EHR) compatible for possible future integration, but the REDCap survey at this point is the most effective means for obtaining relevant data.

“We are collecting cancer specific elements that are not in the EHR, that are very difficult to get out of the EHR,” Warner said.

VICC, Advocate Aurora Health in Wisconsin and Illinois, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center in Miami, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston are the five founding institutional members. By April 24, more than 90 institutions had signed up in the United States and Canada. ESMO is coordinating efforts in Europe.

“We have sort of divided the world between us and ESMO in terms of outreach and gathering data,” said Brian Rini, MD, Ingram Professor of Cancer Research and Chief of Clinical Trials at VICC.

Argentina and Canada are taking part, and CCC19 is seeking regulatory approval from other nations.

“We have been working with a few countries that have adopted the survey into their native languages,” Warner said. “We continue work to make the survey more widely available.”

ASCO is scheduled to release data from “Clinical impact of COVID-19 on patients with cancer: Data from the COVID-19 and Cancer Consortium (CCC19)” at 5 p.m., ET, Thursday, May 28.