Patients diagnosed with cancer more than a year before contracting COVID-19 and those not receiving active treatment may be no more vulnerable to worse COVID outcomes than those without cancer, according to a new study.
“We found that recent cancer diagnoses were associated with a 17% increased risk for death and 10% increased risk for hospitalization,” said Youngran Kim of UT Health Houston in a statement. “However, a history of cancer more than one year before COVID-19 diagnosis was not significantly associated with increased mortality or hospitalization.”
Using electronic health records, Kim’s team studied 271,639 U.S. adults diagnosed with COVID-19 between June and December 2020, including more than 10,000 who had been diagnosed with cancer in the past year and roughly 8,000 whose cancer diagnosis had been made more than a year earlier.
As reported in PLOS One, recent cancer diagnoses were associated with higher risks for worse COVID-19 outcomes particularly among people with metastatic disease or cancers of the blood, liver or lungs. Higher risk for death was also linked to chemotherapy or radiation treatments within three months before SARS-CoV-2 infection.
The study found other disparities among recently-diagnosed cancer patients. In particular, those who were older, Black, received Medicare, and/or lived in the Southern United States were significantly more likely to die after SARS-CoV-2 infection.