Cancer patients have been reported to be at higher risk of COVID-19 complications and deaths. We report the characteristics and outcome of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 during breast cancer treatment at Institut Curie hospitals (ICH, Paris area, France).
An IRB-approved prospective registry was set up at ICH on March 13, 2020, for all breast cancer patients with COVID-19 symptoms or radiologic signs. Registered data included patient history, tumor characteristics and treatments, COVID-19 symptoms, radiological features, and outcome. Data extraction was done on April 25, 2020. COVID-19 patients were defined as those with either a positive RNA test or typical, newly appeared lung CT scan abnormalities.
Among 15,600 patients actively treated for early or metastatic breast cancer during the last 4 months at ICH, 76 patients with suspected COVID-19 infection were included in the registry and followed. Fifty-nine of these patients were diagnosed with COVID-19 based on viral RNA testing (N = 41) or typical radiologic signs: 37/59 (63%) COVID-19 patients were treated for metastatic breast cancer, and 13/59 (22%) of them were taking corticosteroids daily. Common clinical features mostly consisted of fever and/or cough, while ground-glass opacities were the most common radiologic sign at diagnosis. We found no association between prior radiation therapy fields or extent of radiation therapy sequelae and extent of COVID-19 lung lesions. Twenty-eight of these 59 patients (47%) were hospitalized, and 6 (10%) were transferred to an intensive care unit. At the time of analysis, 45/59 (76%) patients were recovering or had been cured, 10/59 (17%) were still followed, and 4/59 (7%) had died from COVID-19. All 4 patients who died had significant non-cancer comorbidities. In univariate analysis, hypertension and age (> 70) were the two factors associated with a higher risk of intensive care unit admission and/or death.
This prospective registry analysis suggests that the COVID-19 mortality rate in breast cancer patients depends more on comorbidities than prior radiation therapy or current anti-cancer treatment. Special attention must be paid to comorbidities when estimating the risk of severe COVID-19 in breast cancer patients.