Several new studies illustrate the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine for malignant mesothelioma patients and survivors. They suggest that people with mesothelioma would do well to find out the rules for vaccination in their state.
In one study, cancer patients who contracted the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID) infection developed serious neurologic symptoms. These symptoms are rarely seen in healthy people who get the illness.
Another study showed cancer survivors were more likely to get severely ill or die from SARS-CoV-2. The study says this is because they tend to have more underlying medical conditions.
An article published in Cancer Discovery found that people with cancer die of SARS-CoV-2 at a rate twice as high as those without cancer.
The COVID-19 vaccine may offer some protection for mesothelioma patients. But the decision has to be made on an individual basis. Mesothelioma patients should discuss the pros and cons of vaccination with their doctor.
NCI: Mesothelioma Patients Should Get Prioritized for COVID-19 Vaccine
The study of underlying medical conditions appears in a recent issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Researchers surveyed 6,411 cancer survivors and 77,748 healthy adults.
They found that cancer survivors were 56 percent more likely to have one or more underlying medical conditions. They were 23 percent more likely to have two or more.The research team concludes that cancer survivors should be at the front of the line for the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Survivors of cancer remain particularly vulnerable and should be prioritized in COVID-19 vaccination campaigns,” writes lead author Changchuan Jiang, MD, MPH.
Unfortunately, that may not be as easy as it sounds for mesothelioma survivors. The rules about who can get the COVID-19 vaccine are different in every state.
Neurological Problems in Cancer Patients with SARS-CoV-2
A study published in Cancer Cell says cancer patients who get SARS-CoV-2 may experience severe neurological problems. The study included cancer patients who had treatment within 30 days of getting sick with COVID.
Many people who get the coronavirus have headaches and lose their senses of smell and taste. But for people with pleural mesothelioma and other types of cancer, neurological problems can go much deeper.
In the study, many had delirium, seizures, and swelling of the brain. Researchers found inflammatory markers in the spinal fluid of cancer patients weeks after their infection.
“These prolonged neurologic sequelae following systemic cytokine release syndrome lead to long-term neurocognitive dysfunction,” writes author Jan Remsik of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. “Our findings suggest a role for anti-inflammatory treatment(s) in the management of neurologic complications of COVID-19 infection.”
Mesothelioma patients who want to know more about the COVID-19 vaccine should call their oncologist. Some states do prioritize cancer patients and survivors as well as older adults. Mesothelioma is most common in people over 65.
Remsik, J, et al, “Inflammatory Leptomeningeal Cytokines Mediate COVID-19 Neurologic Symptoms in Cancer Patients”, February 8, 2021, Cancer Cell, https://www.cell.com/cancer-cell/fulltext/S1535-6108(21)00051-9#%20
Jiang, C, et al, “Prevalence of Underlying Medical Conditions Associated with Severe COVID-19 Illness in Adult Cancer Survivors in the United States”, February 3, 2021, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, https://academic.oup.com/jnci/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jnci/djab012/6123751
Mehta, V, “Case Fatality Rate of Cancer Patients with COVID-19 in a New York Hospital System”, July 2020, Cancer Discovery, https://cancerdiscovery.aacrjournals.org/content/10/7/935