The following article features coverage from the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Congress 2021. Click here to read more of Cancer Therapy Advisor’s conference coverage.

Data from the OnCovid registry showed that 15% of patients with COVID-19 and cancer had long-term COVID-19 sequelae such as respiratory symptoms and chronic fatigue.

These data were presented during a press conference in advance of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Congress 2021 by Alessio Cortellini, MD, of Hammersmith Hospital and Imperial College London in the United Kingdom.

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Dr Cortellini said that 60% to 80% of patients with cancer survive COVID-19 “thanks to guidelines.” However, this has led to unanswered questions about the impact of post-COVID syndrome (also known as “long COVID”) on these patients.

Dr Cortellini presented data on 2795 consecutive patients with cancer and COVID-19 enrolled in the OnCovid registry ( Identifier: NCT04393974) between February 2020 and February 2021. There were 1557 patients who underwent clinical reassessment after they “recovered” from COVID-19.

In all, 15% of patients (n=234) experienced at least 1 COVID-19-associated sequela. The most common were respiratory symptoms (49.6%), such as shortness of breath and chronic cough.

Patients also experienced chronic fatigue (41.0%), neurocognitive dysfunction (7.3%), weight loss (5.5%), organ dysfunction (1.7%), and “other” symptoms (18.4%).

Factors associated with persistent COVID-19-associated sequelae included male sex, age of 65 years or older, 2 or more comorbidities, history of smoking, prior hospitalization for COVID-19, complicated disease, and prior COVID-19 therapy.

In a multivariable analysis, having COVID-19 sequelae was significantly associated with an increased risk of death at a median follow-up of 128 days (hazard ratio [HR], 1.76; 95% CI, 1.16-2.66).

Among patients who were receiving systemic anticancer treatment, 14.8% permanently discontinued this treatment, and 37.8% required dose or regimen adjustments.

Reasons for discontinuing anticancer treatment included worsening performance status (61.3%), disease progression (29.0%), and residual organ dysfunction (9.7%).

Permanent discontinuation of systemic therapy was associated with a significant increase in the risk of death (HR, 4.2; 95% CI, 1.62-10.7), but dose or regimen adjustment was not associated with survival outcomes.

Dr Cortellini said these data demonstrate that “COVID-19 sequelae may impair post-COVID-19 outcomes and, importantly, are associated with oncological continuity of care.”

Disclosures: Some study authors declared affiliations with biotech, pharmaceutical, and/or device companies. Please see the original reference for a full list of disclosures.

Read more of Cancer Therapy Advisor’s coverage of ESMO 2021 by visiting the conference page.


Cortellini A, Roldán E, Carmona Garcia MC, et al. Prevalence and impact of COVID-19 sequelae on treatment pathways and survival of cancer patients who recovered from SARS-CoV-2 infection. Presented at: European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Congress 2021; September 16-21, 2021. Abstract 1560O_PR.