COVID-19 Antibody Testing After Vaccination: NCCN Recommendations

March 16, 2021
Brielle Benyon

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19, new questions arise, such as: how often should cancer survivors who have been vaccinated against the disease be tested for antibodies?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19, new questions arise, such as: how often should cancer survivors who have been vaccinated against the disease be tested for antibodies?

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) says that continuous monitoring for immunity is not needed at this time.

“The committee does not recommend routine post-vaccination antibody testing. Antibody testing and evaluations of post-vaccine T-cell responses should only be done under research protocols,” the NCCN wrote in their recently released Cancer and COVID-19 Vaccination guidelines.

Also in the guidelines, the organization advocates for most patients with cancer to be vaccinated as soon as possible, and for patients on certain cytotoxic chemotherapy regimens to delay treatment if they are diagnosed with COVID-19.

“Assessment for long-term immunity after vaccination with serologic testing (against spike of SARS-CoV2) in the cancer population and the general population outside of the clinical trial are lacking, so utility of such post-vaccine testing is unclear,” the guidance authors wrote.

Experts on the NCCN’s COVID-19 panel did, however, mention that these guidelines may change in the future, especially as the medical and scientific communities learn more about COVID-19 and its long-term effects – particularly for those with cancer.

“These resources, that address the multiple facets of COVID-19 and cancer, are intended to be living documents that evolve as circumstances change and new data emerge,” said Robert W. Carlson, MD, Chief Executive Officer, NCCN, in a statement. “I’m proud of NCCN’s ability to rapidly and continually improve all of our evidence-based guidelines to meet many needs. We hope our efforts increase the safety and peace of mind for people with cancer everywhere.”