Association of active immunotherapy with outcomes in cancer patients with COVID-19: a systematic review and meta-analysis
BACKGROUND During the COVID-19 pandemic, there are growing concerns about the safety of administering immunotherapy in cancer patients with COVID-19. However, current clinical guidelines provided no clear recommendation. METHODS Studies were searched and retrieved from electronic databases. The meta-analysis was performed by employing the generic inverse-variance method. A random-effects model was used to calculate the unadjusted odds ratios (ORs) and adjusted ORs with the corresponding 95% CIs. RESULTS This meta-analysis included 20 articles with 6,042 cancer patients diagnosed with COVID-19. According to the univariate analysis, the acceptance of immunotherapy within 30 days before COVID-19 diagnosis did not increase the mortality of cancer patients (OR: 0.92; 95% CI: 0.68-1.25; P=0.61). Moreover, after adjusting for confounders, the adjusted OR for mortality was 0.51, with borderline significance (95% CI: 0.25-1.01; P=0.053). Similarly, the univariate analysis showed that the acceptance of immunotherapy within 30 days before COVID-19 diagnosis did not increase the risk of severe/critical disease in cancer patients (OR: 1.07; 95% CI: 0.78-1.47; P=0.66). No significant between-study heterogeneity was found in these analyses. CONCLUSIONS Accepting immunotherapy within 30 days before the diagnosis of COVID-19 was not significantly associated with a higher risk of mortality or severe/critical disease of infected cancer patients. Further prospectively designed studies with large sample sizes are required to evaluate the present results.