BACKGROUND: Children with cancer are frequently immunocompromised. While children are generally thought to be at less risk of severe SARS-CoV-2 infection than adults, comprehensive population-based evidence for the risk in children with cancer is unavailable. We aimed to produce evidence of the incidence and outcomes from SARS-CoV-2 in children with cancer attending all hospitals treating this population across the UK.
METHODS: Retrospective and prospective observational study of all children in the UK under 16 diagnosed with cancer through data collection from all hospitals providing cancer care to this population. Eligible patients tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 on reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). The primary end-point was death, discharge or end of active care for COVID-19 for those remaining in hospital.
RESULTS: Between 12 March 2020 and 31 July 2020, 54 cases were identified: 15 (28%) were asymptomatic, 34 (63%) had mild infections and 5 (10%) moderate, severe or critical infections. No patients died and only three patients required intensive care support due to COVID-19. Estimated incidence of hospital identified SARS-CoV-2 infection in children with cancer under 16 was 3%.
CONCLUSIONS: Children with cancer with SARS-CoV-2 infection do not appear at increased risk of severe infection compared to the general paediatric population. This is reassuring and supports the continued delivery of standard treatment.