Designed in cooperation with the Children’s Cancer and Leukemia Group (CCLG), the project enabled all UK centers serving children with cancer to enroll in the study.
Partner organizations involved in project oversight included Public Health England, the Universities of Manchester, Leeds, York, Nottingham and their affiliated children’s hospitals.
The collected data was shared with clinicians and the CCLG in real time to inform advice on shielding in this group of patients. Because of the data produced in this study, the CCLG was able to modify the protection council to remove the majority of children with cancer from the group who need protection.
Dr Martin Mccabe, Snr Clinical Professor in Pediatric, Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer at the University of Manchester. He said: “The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has been a very worrying time for children with cancer undergoing treatment and their families. In this study, all UK Children’s Cancer Centers provided real-time data on SARS-CoV-2 infections. Its results are very reassuring.
“Very few children in cancer treatment have had severe COVID-19 and the rate of severe infection is no higher in children in treatment than in the general child population. The study provides strong evidence that we should continue to treat childhood cancer during the pandemic with the intensive treatments that have been shown to have the best results. “
Lead author Gerard Millen, Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Fellow at the Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Unit at the University of Birmingham, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic spread rapidly in early 2020 and there were concerns initials on the severity of infection in adults with cancer. While children in general appeared to be less affected, little was known about the effects in children with cancer.
“The results are reassuring to parents across the country that children with cancer are not at higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms than other children.”
Lead author Professor Pam Kearns, pediatric oncologist and director of the Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences at the University of Birmingham, said: “This project has been instrumental in enabling clinicians to analyze data in real time and provide evidence to reassure families of vulnerable children and young people with cancer who do not have an increased risk of serious infection by COVID-19 ”.
Ashley Gamble, Executive Director of Children’s Cancer and Leukemia Group, said: “We are delighted to have been able to support this vital project, which has allowed us to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on children and youth with cancer.
“This has enabled the CCLG to provide evidence-based guidance to help parents and families of children with cancer assess their risks and make informed decisions about family life during the pandemic, including supporting children, where appropriate, to stop protecting themselves where the risks are lower than originally thought, and go back to school to minimize the impact on their education. “