Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center Enrolls First Nationwide Participants in COVID-19 Study

Cancer Center currently enrolling participants for study

(Baton Rouge, La.) – Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center enrolled the first two patients in the country for a new COVID-19 study. Through the National Cancer Institute COVID-19 in Cancer Patients Study (NCCAPS), researchers will explore how COVID-19 affects patients’ cancer treatments and outcomes as well as identify any genetic risk factors and markers of severe COVID-19 cases in cancer patients. Patients currently undergoing testing or have already tested positive for COVID-19 are eligible to participate, but will be included in different research tracks with varied information collected.

Any individual age 18 and older with a prior or current cancer diagnosis and is being tested for COVID-19 are eligible to participate.

Many cancer patients experience an impaired immune system due to treatment for their disease, and a COVID-19 diagnosis may disrupt their therapy, possibly impacting outcomes. Clinical researchers and physicians at Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center are seeking to learn more about the long-term outcomes of cancer patients with COVID-19.

Through NCCAPS, blood samples will be collected, along with medical information and copies of medical images of approximately 2,000 cancer patients that tested positive for COVID-19. Amassing this information will allow researchers to explore how COVID-19 affects patients’ cancer treatments and outcomes as well as identify any genetic risk factors and markers of severe COVID-19 cases in cancer patients.

“With innovative studies like this, we are able to contribute to the advancement of understanding the effects of this novel virus on our patients,” said David Hanson, M.D., medical oncologist and hematologist at Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center and the organization’s local principal investigator in the NCCAPS study. “We are always striving for ways to improve survivorship and lessen the burden of cancer. Participating in this study to help ensure all current and future cancer patients can still receive top quality treatment, even if battling a COVID-19 diagnosis, is essential.”

If a study participant’s COVID-19 test results are negative, researchers only will collect limited medical information and the participant will no longer continue with the study.

“People with cancer are already facing the shock of a cancer diagnosis, the tribulations that accompany treatment, or the stress of survivorship. On top of that, we’re learning that people with cancer may be at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 because their cancer, or its treatment, has left them more vulnerable to complications,” says James H. Doroshow, M.D., NCI’s Deputy Director for Clinical and Translational Research and Director of the NCI Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis. “NCCAPS will help scientists answer key questions about COVID-19’s impact on cancer patients, as well as cancer’s impact on the course of COVID-19. The findings have the potential to influence the treatment of cancer patients with COVID-19 in the future.”

Across Louisiana, 10 Mary Bird Perkins clinical trial network locations are participating in this nationwide study. The Cancer Center is collaborating with the Gulf South Minority/Underserved NCI Community Oncology Research Program (GS-MU-NCORP) to combine the facilities’ strengths and experiences to bring this state-of-the-art NCI study to Louisiana cancer patients. To protect all patients and healthcare providers, all research blood samples are collected at the same time blood is drawn for regular cancer care or COVID-19 treatment. No additional visits to healthcare facilities are required.

For more information on NCCAPS or other studies and clinical trials, please visit or contact (225) 215-1353 or email


About Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center
Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center is a regional cancer care organization that has been fighting cancer for almost 50 years. The cancer care organization provides care at nine centers in Baton Rouge, Covington, Hammond, Houma, Gonzales, Zachary and Natchez, Mississippi, and its service area encompasses southeast Louisiana and southwest Mississippi regions. For more information, please visit