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10-07-2020 | Oncology | News | Article

News in brief

Cancer associated with COVID-19 mortality risk in large UK study

Author: Claire Barnard

medwireNews: A large UK study using the OpenSAFELY analytics platform has found that people with cancer, particularly those with hematologic malignancies, may have an elevated risk for COVID-19-related death.

As reported in Nature, Ben Goldacre (University of Oxford, UK) and co-researchers analyzed pseudonymized primary care data from 17,278,392 adults, 10,926 (0.06%) of whom died and had COVID-19 recorded on their death certificate.

For non-hematologic malignancies, COVID-19 death rates were 0.28% for the 79,964 people with a cancer diagnosis less than 1 year previously, and 0.19% for the 234,186 with a diagnosis between 1 and 4.9 years previously, translating into significant hazard ratios (HRs) of 1.72 and 1.15, respectively, relative to people without cancer on multivariable analysis. The 542,320 patients with non-hematologic malignancy diagnosed at least 5 years ago did not have an elevated COVID-19 mortality risk.

The rates of COVID-19-related death for people with hematologic malignancies diagnosed less than 1 year (n=8704), 1–4.9 years (n=27,742), and at least 5 years ago (n=63,460) were 0.49%, 0.43%, and 0.27%, respectively. Patients in all three groups had a significantly elevated COVID-19 mortality risk compared with those without cancer, with corresponding HRs of 2.82, 2.47, and 1.62.

The study also confirmed that older age, male sex, Black and South Asian ethnicity, and a range of comorbidities were linked to COVID-19 mortality risk.

These findings “may be used subsequently to inform the development of prognostic models,” say Goldacre and team, but they “caution against interpreting [the] estimates as causal effects.”

medwireNews is an independent medical news service provided by Springer Healthcare. © 2020 Springer Healthcare part of the Springer Nature Group

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Nature 2020; doi:10.1038/s41586-020-2521-4

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