GI symptoms prevalent in hospitalized COVID-19 patients with cancer
There is a high prevalence of acute gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms associated with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in hospitalized cancer patients, which can occur as a presenting symptom without respiratory symptoms, reveals a recent study. In a small subset of patients, such symptoms are severe.
“GI symptoms have been reported with SARS-CoV-2 infection, but data on the prevalence and severity of GI symptoms in patients with cancer are limited,” the authors said.
To address this, the authors carried out a multicentre cohort study of 395 adult patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in nine Massachusetts medical centres and identified those with an active malignancy. They also assessed the prevalence and severity of GI symptoms among hospitalized COVID-19 patients with cancer.
Thirty-six patients (9 percent) had an active malignancy, of whom 23 (63 percent) reported at least one new GI symptom. Anorexia (n=12; 52 percent) was the most prevalent symptoms, followed by diarrhoea (n=9; 39 percent) and vomiting (n=8; 35 percent).
GI symptoms were the initial symptom in four of 36 patients (11 percent), the predominant symptom in five of 36 (14 percent), and severe in four of 23 patients (17 percent). Among those with GI symptoms at presentation, four reported concurrent fever; one had no fever or respiratory symptoms.
In addition, 12 patients (33 percent) showed elevations in liver transaminases at presentation. These individuals were more likely to have associated GI symptoms (83 percent vs 54 percent; p=0.04).