Incidence of asymptomatic COVID-19 positivity in cancer patients and effects on therapy

Lisa Liu, Nicole M. Ross, Elizabeth A. Handorf, Caitlin R. Meeker, Giana Chen, Donald Baldwin, Namrata Vijayvergia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is posing unprecedented challenges for patient care, especially for cancer patients. This study looks at asymptomatic (AS) COVID-19 positivity in cancer patients and its effects on their care. Methods: We conducted a retrospective chart review of AS patients testing positive for COVID-19 upon screening at Fox Chase Cancer Center between January 2020 and September 2020. Relationships between positive tests and demographics, clinical characteristics, and treatment delays were investigated using conditional logistic regression or Mantel–Haenszel tests. Results: Among 4143 AS patients who underwent COVID-19 testing, 25 (0.6%) were COVID-19 positive (cases) and these were matched to 50 controls. The median age was lower in the cases compared to that of the controls (64 vs 70 years old, p = 0.04). Of the cases, 10 patients (40%) never underwent their planned oncologic intervention [6/10 (60%) did not require the planned intervention once deemed okay to proceed]. Of the controls, only 1 patient (2%) did not undergo the planned intervention. Of these 15 COVID-19 positive patients who underwent the planned intervention, 11 (73.3%) had a delay related to COVID-19, with a mean delay duration of 18 days (range: 0–49, SD: 16.72). Conclusion: Cancer patients had lower incidence of AS COVID-19 than general population. Delays that occur due to AS COVID screening are not very long and serve as a tool to limit spread of virus. Further studies will be important in addressing delays in cancer care and concerns of patient safety as the pandemic continues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3243-3247
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2023


  • Asymptomatic COVID-19
  • COVID-19 screening
  • Intervention delay
  • Pandemic
  • Treatment delay


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