The following article features coverage from the IASLC 2021 World Conference on Lung Cancer. Click here to read more of Cancer Therapy Advisor’s conference coverage.

New research suggests that lung cancer patients have a weaker antibody response to COVID-19 vaccination when compared with healthy control individuals.1

This research was presented at the IASLC 2021 World Conference on Lung Cancer (WCLC) by Jorge E. Gomez, MD, of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.

Dr Gomez and colleagues are conducting a longitudinal study to assess the quality, magnitude, and duration of SARS-CoV-2 antibody titers against full-length spike proteins among patients with lung cancer.

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The team is comparing the patient data with data from healthy control individuals enrolled on the PARIS study.2 Patients and controls are matched for age, sex, ethnicity, and history of tobacco use.

All samples are being drawn at baseline and at 3-month, 6-month, 12-month, and 24-month intervals. The study’s overall target accrual is 750 lung cancer patients and 750 matched control individuals.

Patient and Control Characteristics

At the time of the current analysis, 111 patients with lung cancer had been enrolled. The median patient age was 69 years, 64% of patients were women, and 48% of patients were White.

In all, 39 lung cancer patients were fully vaccinated. In this group, 4 patients had previously developed COVID-19, and 24 had undergone systemic anticancer therapy.

Of the remaining lung cancer patients, 33 had received 1 dose of a vaccine or had not yet reached the 14-day mark after their second vaccination, and 32 declined vaccination.

Most of the vaccinated lung cancer patients (67%) received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, and 31% received the Moderna vaccine. One patient received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and 1 patient did not know which vaccine he had received.

The lung cancer patients were matched with 44 PARIS participants who were seronegative prior to COVID-19 vaccination and 26 PARIS participants who were seropositive. In this group, 25 subjects were not fully vaccinated and 18 were fully vaccinated.

Results and Next Steps

Fully vaccinated lung cancer patients had significantly lower antibody levels than fully vaccinated control individuals (P =.01). The same pattern was seen in patients and control subjects who were partially vaccinated (P =.01).

“We found that, while having lower antibody levels, most lung cancer patients were able to mount an adequate antibody response after vaccination,” Dr Gomez said. “However, there is a group of lung cancer patients whose antibody response is abnormally low.”

When they looked only at the fully vaccinated lung cancer patients, the researchers found no significant differences in antibody responses by sex, age (dichotomized at 65 years), smoking history (never smokers vs smokers), or treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors at the time of vaccination.

As this study continues, Dr Gomez and colleagues are evaluating whether specific anticancer therapies affect antibody levels. The researchers are also planning a study of booster vaccinations in patients who do not mount an adequate response to their initial vaccination.

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


  1. Gomez JE. Analysis of lung cancer patients receiving SARS-CoV-2 vaccines revealed a minority subset with poor antibody responses relative to controls. Presented at: IASLC 2021 World Conference on Lung Cancer hosted by the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer; September 8-14, 2021. Abstract OA01.01.
  2. Krammer F, Srivastava K, Alshammary H, et al. Antibody responses in seropositive persons after a single dose of SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccine. N Engl J Med. 2021;384(14):1372-1374. doi:10.1056/NEJMc2101667