A new study has revealed that people with cancer who have received the COVID-19 vaccine may be at a greater risk of infection and hospitalization compared to those without cancer. The study, led by Lennard Y. W. Lee, DPhil from the University of Oxford, United Kingdom, looked at the antibody responses of 4249 patients with cancer and 294,230 noncancer control patients in the general population who had received either two or three doses of the vaccine.
The researchers found that patients with cancer were significantly more likely to have undetectable antispike antibody responses than control patients who did not have cancer. Patients with leukemia or lymphoma, those receiving systemic anticancer therapy, and those with stage IV cancers were all more likely to have lower antibody titers, and thus were at a higher risk for breakthrough infection and hospitalization.
Following multivariable adjustments, patients with cancer who had an undetectable antibody response had a threefold greater risk for SARS-CoV-2 breakthrough infection and a 6.5 times greater risk of SARS-CoV-2–related hospitalization than those with positive antibody responses.
The study suggests that wider access to antibody testing for individuals with cancer should be evaluated, as it could help inform national guidance for clinicians advising patients and may provide a risk surveillance strategy that can be used to guide vaccination booster programs. Vaccines and antibody testing are key components of a comprehensive strategy to protect immunocompromised individuals from the risks of COVID-19, and the use of other protective measures such as ventilation, filtration and two-way masking is also essential.