Little is known as yet about the outcome of SARS-CoV-2 infection in children being treated for cancer.
We collected information on the clinical characteristics and outcomes of a cohort of 29 children (16 females and 13 males, median age 7 years, range [0-16]) diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 infection while on chemotherapy/immunotherapy (N=26), or after stem cell transplantation (N=3) during the peak of the epidemic in Italy. These patients suffered from leukemia (N=16), lymphoma (N=3), solid tumors (N=10), and Langerhans cell histiocytosis (N=1).
The course of the disease was mild in all cases, with only 12 children developing symptoms (pneumonia in 3 cases), and none needing intensive care. Fifteen patients were hospitalized, including 7 asymptomatic patients. Nine patients (including 5 with no symptoms) were given hydroxychloroquine, and 3 of them were also given lopinavir/ritonavir.
SARS-CoV-2 infection seems to take a milder clinical course in children than in adults with cancer. Specific SARS-CoV-2 treatment seems unnecessary for most children. In the light of our findings, and albeit with the necessary caution, we suggest avoiding major changes to planned anticancer treatments in pediatric patients acquiring COVID-19.
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