Petros Grivas, MD, PhD, on the Implications of the COVID-19 and Cancer Consortium


The expert oncologist spoke about the conclusions drawn from the COVID-19 and Cancer Consortium, as well as the importance of prognostic biomarkers.

Data from 928 patients included in the COVID-19 and Cancer Consortium (CCC19) indicated that in patients with cancer and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), cancer that is progressing was independently associated with an increased risk of death.

In addition, treatment with both hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin was also found to be strongly associated with an increased risk of death.

In an interview with CancerNetwork®, Petros Grivas, MD, PhD, board-certified oncologist at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA), director of the University of Washington (UW) School of Medicine’s Genitourinary Cancers Program, and a UW professor of Oncology, discussed the implications of the consortium and how these findings could help inform future studies.


I think the number one conclusion is we can achieve much more as a team, and while the time is pressing on us, we can come together and collaborate. And many of the buyers and the red tape, as I say, can be removed to expedite data collection and delivery. And to that end, I want to point out that this work required and should require a regulatory compliance and regulatory approvals and the different institutional review boards stood up to the plate and they were instrumental in reviewing those proposals in different institutions very quickly. And I think they helped and contributed in an expedited manner to get this data collected. So, this can be an example of how we can reduce, sort of, the time to open up a clinical trial down the road, right? So, there are examples that we can capitalize on and use them down the road.

In terms of the results, as I mentioned, I think other particular factors, mainly poor performance status, you know, patients who are more elderly, male sex, and patients with progressive cancer that seem to have worse outcomes. And I think it’s very important to point out that this is a question about prognostic biomarkers. It’s almost impossible to answer a question about predictive biomarkers. And the distinction between the two is, prognostic biomarkers give you a sense of what the outcome can be based on how these people do over time regardless of treatment. Predictive biomarkers on the contrary aim to evaluate whether there is a specific response or benefit to a particular treatment. And this second question of predictive biomarkers is better answered through clinical trials.

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