Purpose: Our purpose was to establish the prevalence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) in asymptomatic patients scheduled to receive radiation therapy and its effect on management decisions. Methods and Materials: Between April 2020 and July 2020, patients without influenza-like illness symptoms at four radiation oncology departments (two academic university hospitals and two community hospitals) underwent polymerase chain reaction testing for SARS-CoV-2 before the initiation of treatment. Patients were tested either before radiation therapy simulation or after simulation but before treatment initiation. Patients tested for indications of influenza-like illness symptoms were excluded from this analysis. Management of SARS-CoV-2-positive patients was individualized based on disease site and acuity. Results: Over a 3-month period, a total of 385 tests were performed in 336 asymptomatic patients either before simulation (n = 75), post-simulation, before treatment (n = 230), or on-treatment (n = 49). A total of five patients tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, for a pretreatment prevalence of 1.3% (2.6% in north/central New Jersey and 0.4% in southern New Jersey/southeast Pennsylvania). The median age of positive patients was 58 years (range, 38-78 years). All positive patients were white and were relatively equally distributed with regard to sex (2 male, 3 female) and ethnicity (2 Hispanic and 3 non-Hispanic). The median Charlson comorbidity score among positive patients was five. All five patients were treated for different primary tumor sites, the large majority had advanced disease (80%), and all were treated for curative intent. The majority of positive patients were being treated with either sequential or concurrent immunosuppressive systemic therapy (80%). Initiation of treatment was delayed for 14 days with the addition of retesting for four patients, and one patient was treated without delay but with additional infectious-disease precautions. Conclusions: Broad-based pretreatment asymptomatic testing of radiation oncology patients for SARS-CoV-2 is of limited value, even in a high-incidence region. Future strategies may include focused risk-stratified asymptomatic testing.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging