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Study Pinpoints Cancer Patients at Highest Risk From COVID

HealthDay News
by Robert Preidt
Updated: Jun 7th 2021

new article illustration

MONDAY, June 7, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Hospitalized patients with active cancer are more likely to die from COVID-19 than those who've survived cancer and patients who've never had cancer, a new study shows.

Researchers analyzed the records of nearly 4,200 patients hospitalized at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Of those patients, 233 had an active cancer diagnosis.

In-hospital rates of death from COVID-19 were about 34% among those with active cancer but fell to about 28% among those with a history of cancer or with no history of cancer, the study found.

Those with active blood cancers had the highest risk of death from COVID-19, according to the study published recently in the journal Cancer.

Receiving anti-cancer therapy -- including chemotherapy, molecularly targeted therapies and immunotherapy -- within three months before hospitalization was not linked to a higher risk of death, the researchers said.

"Among those hospitalized with active cancer and COVID-19, recent cancer therapy was not associated with worse outcomes," said study senior author Dr. Daniel Becker, a medical oncologist at NYU Langone.

Therefore, "people with active cancer should take precautions against getting COVID-19, including vaccination, but need not avoid therapy for cancer," Becker said in a journal news release.

The findings also highlight the importance of COVID-19 vaccination for cancer patients, according to the journal's incoming editor-in-chief, Dr. Suresh Ramalingam. He's deputy director of the Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University in Atlanta and assistant dean for cancer research at the university's School of Medicine.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on cancer patients and COVID-19.

SOURCE: Cancer, news release, June 7, 2021