Dr. Choueiri on the COVID-19 and Cancer Consortium


Toni K. Choueiri, MD, discusses the COVID-19 and Cancer Consortium, a multicenter effort to obtain evidence-based information on patients with cancer who have tested positive for the virus.

Toni K. Choueiri, MD, director of the Lank Center for Genitourinary Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Jerome and Nancy Kohlberg Professor at Harvard Medical School, and who is also the leader of the Kidney Cancer Program at Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, discusses The COVID-19 and Cancer Consortium (CCC19), a multicenter effort to obtain evidence-based information on patients with cancer who have tested positive for the virus.

The CCC19 is designed for healthcare professionals to report real-world data on patients with cancer—who are either actively receiving therapy or who have a prior history of the disease—and have also tested positive for COVID-19, in an effort to collect data and distribute information about this specific patient population. The CCC19 is a global collaboration, says Choueiri.

Although prospective clinical trials with COVID-19 are ongoing, the situation is rapidly evolving. To fully understand the pandemic, investigators must capture data on both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients who are heavily affected by the infection, says Choueiri. To this end, the CCC19 continues to grow on a daily basis and investigators involved in the effort hope to have a publication in the near future.

Investigators involved in CCC19 continue to input data and there are now hundreds of cases documented, with many variables for each case, says Choueiri. These data include anything from past history of medication, to comorbidities, to cancer type and stage.

Notably, scientist and activist Corrie A. Painter, PhD, from Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard has joined the effort, and she is also a cancer survivor, notes Choueiri. Solange Peters MD, PhD, of Lausanne University in Switzerland has also joined the collaboration, along with Gary Lyman, MD, MPH, FASCO, FRCO, from the University Of Washington. Choueiri adds that there is also leadership from Jeremy Warner, MD, MS, FAMIA, FASCO, and Brian Rini, MD, of Vanderbilt University Medical Center/Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Cancer.

On the CCC19 website, all collaborators involved in the initiative are listed, along with further information on the project, frequently asked questions, and the publication. The website can also serve as a resource for COVID-19 information, as it’s updated on a daily basis, says Choueiri.

Other initiatives are available for those who do not have cancer, adds Choueiri. Efforts are also being made for patients who do not have cancer. Notable initiatives are being led by ASH and other efforts are being made in the United Kingdom, such TERAVOLT, the COVID-19 Global Rheumatology Alliance, and the SECURE-Cirrhosis Registry, among others. The wellbeing of patients lies at the center of all these efforts, stresses Choueiri.

When healthcare professionals click on the survey to input data into the CCC19 database, they will be questioned on whether they intend to create a report on a patient who has either presumptive or lab-confirmed COVID-19, says Choueiri. If the provider answers, “Yes,” they will be asked whether the patient has been entered into other registries or if this is the first one. They will also be asked whether they are reporting on behalf of an institution participating in that consortium. If the answer, is “yes,” then the professional will enter the institution. After that, they will submit the survey. After submission, they will be given a unique patient number and they will fill out the age, gender, and other information pertaining to the patient, explains Choueiri. Institutional Review Board approval was obtained for this effort in a record time of under 10 days, notes Choueiri.

In practice, at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, things continue to change rapidly, says Choueiri. Care has shifted from all in-person visits to virtual visits using Zoom, as well as phone calls. One of the biggest changes that has occurred has to do with communication, adds Choueiri. Although there was always great communication before, communication has improved even more, notes Choueiri.

Things continue to change on a daily basis with regard to who gets tested for the virus among patients and providers, visitor allowance, and mask guidance. The adaptability witnessed at the institution shows that in a situation of hardship such as this pandemic, communication is key, says Choueiri. Having an open line of communication with all the stakeholders is essential, he adds.

With regard to research efforts for COVID-19, several trials are ongoing. Many of the trials are interventional, notes Choueiri, so things continue to move fast. It’s important to take a step back and reflect on the research that is being done and the goal of that research. Investigators must understand that, if a patient tests positive for COVID-19 but they don’t present with many symptoms, they may be eligible for 1 type of trial, says Choueiri. However, if a patient is in the intensive care unit, and they have hypoxia or intubated, then they should be considered for a different type of trial. Trials are available for the latter in Massachusetts. For any patient who tests positive for the virus, they should look into the site closest to them and call their physician to see if there is a trial for them, concludes Choueiri.

Please visit to watch the entitreity of the MJH Life Sciences News Network, which provides the latest news across a variety of healthcare specialties, and a number of interviews with experts in the medical field, many of which are focused on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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