Researchers recently published information about a patient with lung cancer who was also infected with SARS-CoV-2 who continued targeted therapy, despite the general practice of withdrawing cancer treatment from most patients after infection with the virus.1

In a letter to the editor, researchers from China detailed a man aged 57 years with lung cancer who was diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 after he presented with a fever while hospitalized for cancer treatment.

Previously, the patient had been diagnosed with EGFR L858R-mutant advanced adenocarcinoma and received targeted therapy with gefitinib followed by osimertinib after EGFR T790M was detected.

In December 2019, the patient was admitted to begin radiotherapy for enlarged lymph nodes, and within a few weeks reported a fever with symptoms of cough, shortness of breath, myalgia, and diarrhea.

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Once the diagnosis of COVID-19 was confirmed, the patient began treatment with antiviral therapy with lopinavir-ritonavir (Kaletra®). Follow-up tests confirmed recovery from pneumonia.

During that time, the patient continued treatment with targeted therapy osimertinib, and a follow-up CT scan showed stable lesions in both lungs, resulting in the researchers determining the patient had stable cancer control.

The researchers noted that the cancer treatment was continued “because his overall situation permitted.”

“As for cancer patients with COVID-19, whether cancer treatment should be discontinued remains debatable,” they wrote. Although the case “demonstrated the potential of maintaining targeted treatment in patients with good condition, further studies are in urgent need.”

Reference

Zhang H, Huang Y, Xie C, et al. The treatment and outcome of a lung cancer patient infected with SARS-CoV-2 [published online March 5, 2020]. J Thoracic Oncol. doi: 10.1016/j.jtho.2020.02.025