COVID-19 Vaccination During Chemotherapy Deemed Safe for Gastrointestinal Cancers

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COVID-19 vaccination appears safe for patients with gastrointestinal (GI) cancer undergoing chemotherapy, according to a study presented at the ASCO Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium 2022.

In this single-center study, there were no changes to treatment schedules due to vaccine-related side effects, and there were no new safety signals compared with previous reports, according to researchers.

The study included 52 patients from Tokyo Medical and Dental University who were vaccinated with 2 doses of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) between May 2021 and September 2021. None of the patients had a prior history of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

There were 45 patients who received chemotherapy before vaccination. The median time from last chemotherapy dose to first vaccination was 11 days (range, 1-70 days).

The median time from first to second chemotherapy dose was 21 days (range, 21-41 days). The median time from first vaccination to subsequent chemotherapy was 10 days (range, 2-34 days).

Treatment schedules were changed for 11 patients due to safety reasons (n=3), myelosuppression (n=4), or convenience (n=4). An additional 4 patients stopped treatment due to progressive disease.

There were no changes to treatment schedules due to COVID-19 vaccination or vaccine-related side effects.

The most common side effects were injection site pain (n=35), fatigue (n=6), fever (n=3), headache (n=2), and GI symptoms (n=2). There were no vaccine- or treatment-related deaths.

Based on these results, the researchers concluded that COVID-19 vaccination is tolerable in GI cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, so changes to treatment schedules can be minimized.

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