Greater Risk of Cancer Mortality Observed Among People Experiencing Symptoms of Long COVID-19

Efforts are underway to better understand long COVID-19, the name given to long-lasting effects of infection with COVID-19 which can include difficulty breathing, fatigue and brain fog, among other symptoms. Data presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology Congress 2021 indicated that cancer patients who experienced symptoms of long COVID-19 were more likely to die of cancer than people with no long​-term COVID-19 effects. A study of the OnCovid registry​, which spans patients from 35 institutions in Europe, found that 15% of cancer patients who were diagnosed with COVID-19 had at least one symptom of long COVID-19. People with long COVID-19 symptoms were also more likely to stop cancer treatment. The people who had long COVID-19 symptoms were more likely to be men, be at least 65 years of age, have a history of smoking or have at least two comorbidities. Medical oncologist Alessio Cortellini, an author of the study, noted in a press release​ that the people who had long-term symptoms of COVID-19 had also experienced more severe cases of the disease and emphasized the importance of getting vaccinated.

Enhertu Extends Time to Progression in Metastatic HER2-Positive Breast Cancer

Results presented Sept. 18 at the ESMO Congress 2021 showed that the targeted therapy Enhertu (trastuzumab deruxtecan) can extend the time people with metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer go without cancer progression after first-line treatment with Herceptin (trastuzumab) and chemotherapy. The DESTINY-Breast03 trial found that people given Enhertu went a median of 25.1 months without cancer progression compared to 7.2 months for people given Kadcyla (ado-trastuzumab emtansine), a standard treatment in this setting. This is the first direct comparison between these two targeted therapies, which were both approved for the treatment of HER2-positive breast cancer within the last three years. In a press release, medical oncologist Javier Cortés, an author of the study who presented the results at the ESMO Congress, described the treatment’s benefit to patients and its consistency across subgroups as “remarkable” and suggested that Enhertu could be the new standard of care for this patient population.

FDA Approvals for Cervical Cancer and Thyroid Cancer Treatments

On Sept. 17, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved ​Cabometyx (cabozantinib) for adults and children over 12 with differentiated thyroid cancer that has progressed after previous targeted therapy and who can’t be given radioactive iodine. Cabometyx, which is a type of kinase inhibitor, led to a progression-free survival of 11 months compared to 1.9 months for a control group given a placebo and supportive care. The FDA also granted accelerated approval ​on Sept. 20 to Tivdak (tisotumab vedotin-tftv) for people with cervical cancer that has progressed during or after treatment with chemotherapy. The tissue factor-directed antibody and microtubule inhibitor conjugate​​was granted this approval based on results from the single-arm innovaTV 204 trial, where Tivdak showed an objective response rate of 24% and a median duration of response of 8.3 months. Full approval for Tivdak will depend on the results of confirmatory trials.​​​​​