Major UK study of cancer and COVID-19 launched

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sA new UK study has been launched to assess the impact of COVID-19 on people with cancer.

People with cancer are among those at higher risk of COVID-19 complications, as cancer and its treatment can weaken the immune system. In addition, there has been disruption to cancer diagnosis and treatment because of the pandemic.

The Clinical Characterisation Protocol (CCP) CANCER-UK project will run over 12 months and will examine questions that are important for the care of patients with cancer. The study will also determine COVID-19 infection and mortality rates in people with different types of cancer, as well as those receiving different treatments, by collecting and analysing patient data.

With almost 7,000 patients with both confirmed cancer and COVID-19 diagnoses already enrolled, it will be one of the largest and most detailed studies in the world.

This study is a companion to the highly successful UK arm of the International Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infection Consortium (ISARIC) Coronavirus Clinical Characterisation Consortium (ISARIC4C), which is led by researchers from Liverpool, Edinburgh and Imperial College London. ISARIC4C has collected data from 79,000 patients in the UK with COVID-19, around 9% of whom also have cancer.

CCP CANCER-UK is being led by Professor Carlo Palmieri, Professor in Translational Oncology at the University of Liverpool and Consultant in Medical Oncology at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, and Dr Lance Turtle, Senior Clinical Lecturer at the University of Liverpool and Consultant in Infectious Diseases at Liverpool University Hospitals, in collaboration with ISARIC4C.

Professor Carlo Palmieri said: “Using anonymised data from patients, our aim is to look ahead to see whether certain cancer types or treatments have different outcomes in relation to COVID-19. We predict our findings will inform future clinical decisions around cancer treatment and the level of risk from SARS-CoV-2, the strain of coronavirus that causes COVID-19, to individual patients.

“A unique feature of this study will be the ability to directly compare cancer patients with non-cancer patients so we get a real understanding about what it means to have cancer and cancer treatment with COVID-19.”

Dr Lance Turtle added: “Although we know that patients with cancer are more susceptible to COVID-19, we strongly suspect that this is not the case across all cancer patients. Some may be at greater risk, whereas others may have much less risk. This study will allow us to determine this, giving much more detail as how to advise patients with cancer about the risks of COVID-19.”

The study has received £340,000 from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), with additional funding from The Clatterbridge Cancer Charity.

The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust is the sponsor for the study, which will be delivered with support from the Liverpool Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre.

The study was developed through the Liverpool Health Partners (LHP) Cancer Programme as part of a unique cross-collaborative approach put in place to drive and support the development of cancer/COVID-19 research projects.

Professor Andrew Pettitt, Director of the LHP Cancer Programme, said: “CCP-CANCER-UK epitomises the collaborative, multi-stakeholder approach to research that is being fostered and supported as part of the LHP Cancer Programme. By bringing together leading researchers in cancer and infection, this important new study will provide badly needed information on COVID-19 outcomes in people with cancer and thereby help to shape public health policy during the chronic phase of the pandemic. Securing funding from UKRI is a significant achievement and reflects exemplary leadership and teamwork.”

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