Twelve-month observational study of children with cancer in 41 countries during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Global Health Research Group on Children’s Non-Communicable Diseases Collaborative None.
INTRODUCTION: Childhood cancer is a leading cause of death. It is unclear whether the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted childhood cancer mortality. In this study, we aimed to establish all-cause mortality rates for childhood cancers during the COVID-19 pandemic and determine the factors associated with mortality. METHODS: Prospective cohort study in 109 institutions in 41 countries. INCLUSION CRITERIA: children <18 years who were newly diagnosed with or undergoing active treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Hodgkin lymphoma, retinoblastoma, Wilms tumour, glioma, osteosarcoma, Ewing sarcoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, medulloblastoma and neuroblastoma. Of 2327 cases, 2118 patients were included in the study. The primary outcome measure was all-cause mortality at 30 days, 90 days and 12 months. RESULTS: All-cause mortality was 3.4% (n=71/2084) at 30-day follow-up, 5.7% (n=113/1969) at 90-day follow-up and 13.0% (n=206/1581) at 12-month follow-up. The median time from diagnosis to multidisciplinary team (MDT) plan was longest in low-income countries (7 days, IQR 3-11). Multivariable analysis revealed several factors associated with 12-month mortality, including low-income (OR 6.99 (95% CI 2.49 to 19.68); p<0.001), lower middle income (OR 3.32 (95% CI 1.96 to 5.61); p<0.001) and upper middle income (OR 3.49 (95% CI 2.02 to 6.03); p<0.001) country status and chemotherapy (OR 0.55 (95% CI 0.36 to 0.86); p=0.008) and immunotherapy (OR 0.27 (95% CI 0.08 to 0.91); p=0.035) within 30 days from MDT plan. Multivariable analysis revealed laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection (OR 5.33 (95% CI 1.19 to 23.84); p=0.029) was associated with 30-day mortality. CONCLUSIONS: Children with cancer are more likely to die within 30 days if infected with SARS-CoV-2. However, timely treatment reduced odds of death. This report provides crucial information to balance the benefits of providing anticancer therapy against the risks of SARS-CoV-2 infection in children with cancer.