Patients with solid tumors do not appear to have an increased risk of side effects from COVID-19 vaccination, according to a systematic review published in Clinical Oncology

Researchers found that side effects among patients with solid tumors were similar to side effects observed in the general population. 

The researchers reviewed data from 22 studies of patients with solid tumors who received 1 or more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. For comparison purposes, the researchers analyzed data from 8 randomized controlled studies (including 4 phase 3 trials) conducted in the general public.


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Data from 3821 patients with solid tumors were evaluated. The patients were undergoing cancer treatment or were within 6 months of treatment completion at the time of vaccination. The patients were vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech monovalent vaccine, the Moderna monovalent vaccine, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine (Vaxzevria), Sinovac (CoronaVac), or CureVac (CVnCoV).

Local or injection site symptoms in patients with solid tumors included injection site pain (33.3%) and axillary/clavicular lymphadenopathy (10.5%). The most commonly reported systemic side effects were fatigue/malaise (14%), musculoskeletal symptoms (9.4%), and headache (7.9%). 

Reported symptoms were mostly mild to moderate, according to the researchers, which suggests that COVID-19 vaccines “should be considered safe in this population.” 

In the randomized trials of the general population, 7% to 100% of participants reported injection site pain, less than 1% to 15% reported axillary/clavicular lymphadenopathy, 2% to 86% reported fatigue, 1% to 100% reported headaches, and 1% to 60% reported myalgia. 

In the phase 3 trials, 7% to 85% of participants reported injection site pain, less than 1% to 15% reported axillary/clavicular lymphadenopathy, 15% to 75% reported fatigue, 2% to 77% reported headaches, and 10% to 60% reported myalgia.

The incidence and severity of reported side effects “were deemed comparable between both populations, reinforcing the notion that COVID-19 vaccination is as safe to administer in patients with solid tumors as in the general population,” the researchers wrote.

Reference

Shear SL, Shams K, Weisberg J, Hamidi N, Scott SC. COVID-19 vaccination safety profiles in patients with solid tumour cancers: A systematic review. Clinical Oncol. Published online March 14, 2023. doi:10.1016/j.clon.2023.03.006