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23-04-2020 | Oncology | News | Article

New York City study reports on prognosis of cancer patients with COVID-19

Shreeya Nanda

medwireNews: Age appears to be a key factor modifying the prognosis of people with cancer who acquire COVID-19, findings indicate.

The researchers from Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, USA, found that 6.0% of 5688 New York City patients with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 diagnosed between 1 March and 6 April 2020 also had cancer, most commonly breast cancer (17.1%), prostate cancer (16.8%), lung cancer (6.9%), and urothelial cancer (5.4%).

Overall, cancer patients had a significantly increased risk for intubation compared with those without cancer (relative risk [RR]=1.89), but the mortality risk did not differ significantly.

However, stratification by age groups showed that the intubation risk was only significantly higher for cancer versus non-cancer patients in the 66–80 years group (RR=1.76), and the mortality risk was significantly increased only for cancer patients younger than 50 years (RR=5.01).

Interestingly, the mortality risk tended to be lower for cancer patients than for their counterparts without cancer in the older age groups, although these differences did not reach statistical significance.

Hirotaka Miyashita and co-authors suggest that perhaps patients with cancer experience less severe cytokine-associated lung injury during the course of COVID-19 due to their impaired immune systems, which may contribute to the reduced mortality risk.

“Nevertheless, in young populations, whose mortality rate from COVID-19 is very low in general, baseline fragility in cancer patients may lead to a relatively higher rate of deaths,” they write in a letter to the Annals of Oncology.

The investigators acknowledge the study limitations, such as the heterogeneity of tumor types and stages, but nonetheless conclude: “The relatively large number of patients in the study allowed for the adjustment of age, which is one of the strongest prognostic factors.

“Further study based on the individual patients’ data is warranted for a better understanding of the risk of COVID-19 in cancer patients.”

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

23 April 2020: The coronavirus pandemic is affecting all healthcare professionals across the globe. Medicine Matters’ focus, in this difficult time, is the dissemination of the latest data to support you in your research and clinical practice, based on the scientific literature. We will update the information we provide on the site, as the data are published. However, please refer to your own professional and governmental guidelines for the latest guidance in your own country.

Ann Oncol 2020; doi:10.1016/j.annonc.2020.04.006

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