Global Registry Collects Data on Pediatric Cancer Patients With COVID-19

M. Alexander Otto

April 24, 2020

A week after its launch, a new online registry has information on more than 2 dozen cases of pediatric cancer patients with COVID-19.

The registry, created by St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., and the International Society of Paediatric Oncology, is the first global COVID-19 registry for children with cancer.

Clinicians enter cases through an online form, then complete 30- and 60-day follow-up reports via email. St. Jude compiles the data and releases regularly updated summaries, including the number of cases by country and by treatment. Eventually, researchers might be able to apply for access to the raw data for their own projects.

It's all free of charge, said Carlos Rodriguez-Galindo, MD, chair of the department of global pediatric medicine at St. Jude.

The registry is hosted on a website called "The Global COVID-19 Observatory and Resource Center for Childhood Cancer." In addition to the registry, the website has a resource library and a discussion forum where clinicians can exchange information.

Other COVID-19 cancer registries have launched recently as well, including registries created by the COVID-19 and Cancer Consortium and the American Society of Clinical Oncology. The idea is to compile and disseminate best practices and other information quickly amid concerns that immunosuppressed cancer patients might be especially vulnerable.

So far, that doesn't seem to be the case for children. Their relative protection from the disease and serious complications seems to hold even when they have cancer, Dr. Rodriguez-Galindo said.

"When we talk with the people in China" the number of COVID-19 cases in children with cancer is "very small," he said. There are a couple of reports from Europe finding the same thing, and the severity of COVID-19 also "seems to be lower than you would expect," he added.

The new registry will help better define the situation, according to Dr. Rodriguez-Galindo.

St. Jude is working with European countries that have their own national pediatric cancer COVID-19 registries to share information. St. Jude's ties with lower- and middle-income countries, established via the department of global pediatric medicine, should help populate the global registry as well.

Furthermore, international surveys are being planned to gauge the impact of COVID-19 on children with cancer and their access to care.

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