Although cancer patients have a disproportionately higher COVID-19 mortality rate, they have nuanced vaccine attitudes. While a majority of patients expressed interest in vaccination, feelings about what vaccination can accomplish mirrored the nation’s political divide. Concurrently, cancer patients report adverse events compared with the general population.

ASCOThese results are from studies conducted by Inspire, the vital health community for millions of patients and caregivers, and COSMO, the Collaboration for Outcomes using Social Media in Oncology.

Attitudes about COVID-19 vaccines
Results from a survey presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology® (ASCO), held June 4 – 8, 2021, show attitudes about COVID-19 vaccines among Inspire members with cancer (Abstract #1531). Led by Don Dizon, MD, professor of medicine at Brown University, director of COSMO, and Inspire Research Accelerator program partner, the study found that 80% of cancer patients intended to get COVID-19 vaccines, a far higher proportion than reported in the general population around the same time.[1]

Using the 2020 Electoral College map to indicate political leaning at the state level, significantly more Inspire patients in ‘blue states’ believed that vaccination was the best defense against COVID-19 when compared to Inspire patients in ‘red states’ (67 vs 33%, p <.05). There was, however, no significant difference in vaccine uptake.

The study included 750 respondents with the most common cancers, including prostate (30%), thyroid (24%) ovarian (20%), bladder (8%), and breast (4%). Among the participants, 44% were between 46 and 65 years old and 48% were over 65. A total of 38% of respondents reported that they were on active treatment. The majority were white (91%), female (56%), and had a bachelor’s degree or higher (72%). Respondents represented the South (38%), West (28%), Midwest (20%), and Northeast (18%). Nearly half of respondents lived in a suburb near a large city. Almost 40% reported an annual income of > $100,000 and 13% reported income < $50,000/year.

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The outcome of the study showed that although people with cancer are much more interested in COVID-19 vaccination compared to the general public, a significant minority of cancer patients distrust the government and healthcare industry.

Adverse events among cancer patients
The results of the second study presented by Kathleen Hoffman, Ph.D. MSPH, the senior researcher at Inspire who was the lead analyst for both studies, revealed findings on the adverse effects of the COVID-19 vaccines in Inspire’s cancer communities. Notwithstanding the exclusion of cancer patients from vaccine clinical trials, cancer patients in this survey reported side effects comparable to the general population.[2]

Fig.1.0: Over 4,000 cancer patients participated in the survey.[1]
“Our study demonstrates safety in high-risk populations of individuals with cancer,” said Stuart Goldberg, MD, study leader and Inspire medical advisory board member.

According to Brian Loew, the Chief Executive Officer of Inspire, the collaborative participation, and presentation at ASCO help fulfill Inspire’s mission.

“Inspire’s goal is to accelerate life-changing discoveries by inviting patients in our community to participate in world-class research,” he concluded.

[1] Don S. Dizon, Kathleen D. Hoffman, Danielle Gentile, Richard Tsai, John Novack, Deanna J. Attai, Merry Jennifer Markham, et al. People with cancer are likely to accept the COVID-19 vaccine, but politics tracks with attitudes: An inspire and COSMO survey. Abstract: 1531; Presented at: American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), held June 4 – 8, 2021. J Clin Oncol 39, 2021 (suppl 15; abstr 1531)
[2] Loew B, Tsai R, Hervey J, Hoffman KD, Novack J, Johnson J, Dizon DS, Goldberg SL. Adverse effects of COVID-19 vaccination among cancer patients: Results from an Internet-based survey. Abstract: 2621; Presented at: American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), held June 4 – 8, 2021. J Clin Oncol 39, 2021 (suppl 15; abstr 2621)

Featured image: COVID-19. Photo Courtesy: © 2020-2021 Brian McGowan/Unsplash. Used with permission

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