What is it about?

Patients with cancer are more affected by COVID-19 than healthy people. For example, studies suggest that they produce fewer antibodies in response to vaccinations. A healthy person usually has a robust immune response for 6 months after vaccination. But there isn’t enough data on the immune response in patients with cancer. Also, not enough is known about “breakthrough infections” in these patients, which are severe infections that may occur despite vaccination. Thus, a study explored the long-term immune responses to mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (which have been popular during the pandemic) in patients with cancer. The authors also looked at the rate of breakthrough infections in these patients. The results showed that 6 months after vaccination, only 24% of patients with “solid tumors" had robust immune responses. This number was lower for patients with blood cancer at 17%. They also saw that patients who were undergoing a type of cancer therapy called “B cell targeted therapy” had lower immune responses. Patients with solid tumors who had treatment before vaccination had lower response than those who had it after. Breakthrough infections were rare, and only occurred in patients with blood cancer. Patients also had different responses to different mRNA vaccines.

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Why is it important?

Deciding when to vaccinate a patient with cancer is challenging. Often, treatment is delayed to allow for vaccination. This study offers crucial insight into how patients with cancer respond to vaccines. It also offers data on how immune responses vary based on the type of cancer treatment and mRNA vaccines. These insights may help healthcare providers plan vaccinations for patients with cancer. This can help patients with cancer continue their critical treatments, while also protecting them from COVID-19. KEY TAKEAWAY: Patients with cancer have lower immune responses to mRNA COVID-19 vaccines than healthy people. In addition, their immune response varies based on the type of cancer treatment. Long-term studies on vaccine responses in patients with cancer can inform effective vaccination plans.

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Longitudinal SARS-CoV-2 mRNA Vaccine-Induced Humoral Immune Responses in Patients with Cancer, Cancer Research, November 2021, American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.can-21-3554.
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