New research suggests that not only are COVID-19 vaccines safe for cancer patients, they even reduce the chances of cancer patients being infected by the virus in the future.
The data comes from an independent study published in Clinical Lung Study from the Division of Thoracic Oncology at the European Institute of Oncology. Scientists examined how people with thoracic cancers, including mesothelioma, fared after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
From February 2021-September 2021, there were 206 patients with thoracic cancer who received a COVID vaccine. The majority of the patients had lung cancer, which is the most common thoracic cancer and one of the most common cancers in general. Eight of the patients had malignant mesothelioma.
The type of mesothelioma that’s a thoracic cancer is pleural mesothelioma, which occurs in the thin lining on the exterior of the thoracic cavity. This lining is close to the lungs and pleural mesothelioma often spreads to the lungs.
Safety of COVID-19 Vaccine for Thoracic Cancer Patients
This new data from the European Institute of Oncology affirms that COVID-19 vaccines are safe for cancer patients and, importantly, won’t conflict with cancer treatment.
The majority of the thoracic cancer patients in the European Institute of Oncology study were undergoing treatment when they received the COVID-19 vaccine:
- Nearly half (46%) were receiving targeted therapy
- 22.7% were receiving immunotherapy
- 14% were receiving chemotherapy
Only 15.6% of the patients experienced an adverse event (side effect) from the COVID-19 vaccine. The majority were grade 1 and grade 2, with only two patients experiencing grade 3 side effects. None of the patients died due to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
COVID-19 and Mesothelioma Cancer
Mesothelioma Guide previously reported on a variety of topics about mesothelioma and COVID-19, such as:
- What the COVID-19 vaccines mean for mesothelioma patients
- How COVID-19 affects people with mesothelioma
- COVID-19 vaccines proven to work during cancer treatment
- Mesothelioma patients at higher risk of death from COVID
- Importance of mesothelioma victims getting second COVID vaccine shot
COVID-19 can have a significant impact on the health and safety of cancer patients, particularly those with thoracic cancers like pleural mesothelioma and lung cancer. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness, meaning it attacks and affects respiratory functioning. This is why COVID-19 side effects include coughing and shortness of breath.
COVID-19 attacks the tissue lining of the lungs and can block the lung’s normal ability to remove debris and fluids. The virus then replicates and spreads across the lungs, further affecting respiratory functioning and causing more serious side effects.
People with lung cancer or pleural mesothelioma already have impacted respiratory functioning. The added effect of COVID-19 only amplifies these issues.
Additionally, cancer patients have a less-effective immune system than most people, either due to the immune system focusing on the cancer or being subdued by the cancer. This means the immune system is not capable of, or not focused on, fighting the COVID-19 virus attacking the lungs.
COVID-19 Vaccines Prevent COVID-19 Infection for Many Patients
The COVID-19 vaccine does not altogether stop people from getting infected. The vaccine helps prevent patients from experiencing severe side effects or hospitalizations.
Importantly, only 10% of the patients were positive for COVID-19 in the months following their vaccination. The median follow-up time was nine months. The majority of patients with a positive COVID-19 test (67%) were asymptomatic, meaning without symptoms.
The few patients who had COVID-19 symptoms experienced mild symptoms, and the rate of hospitalizations was well below the average for cancer patients with COVID.
What to Do Before Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine
If you have mesothelioma and have not received your original COVID-19 vaccine – or you’re eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot – please speak with your oncologist before making any decisions. If you’d like more information about which COVID-19 vaccines you’re eligible for, plus guidance on getting the vaccines while fighting cancer, visit the American Cancer Society’s page about COVID-19 vaccines.
Mesothelioma Guide can also answer any questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine while having cancer. Email our medical expert, nurse Karen Ritter, at firstname.lastname@example.org. If she cannot answer your question, she will direct you to online resources from medical organizations to best help you.
Sources & Author
- Safety of mRNA-COVID-19 Vaccines in Patients With Thoracic Cancers. Clinical Lung Cancer. Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36372676/. Accessed: 11/15/2022.
- Learn About COVID-19. American Lung Association. Retrieved from: https://www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/covid-19/about-covid-19. Accessed: 11/15/2022.
Sources & Author