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Impact of COVID-19 on cancer patients

Two articles recently published in American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) journals have investigated the impact of COVID-19 on cancer patients.

The long-term impact that the coronavirus pandemic will have on the economy and public health is an ongoing question. The overwhelming demand on healthcare systems has resulted in a direct impact on healthcare services, especially cancer care in hospitals. The AACR last month held a three-day virtual event with a series of presentations and talks reviewing current COVID-19 research. Many of the talks discussed the unprecedented impact it has had on cancer research and care.

Now, additional research in this area has provided further evidence into the true impact of COVID-19 on patients with cancer. A summary of the results found in these papers can be seen below.

A clinical portrait

The study published in Cancer Discovery is titled “Clinical portrait of the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic in European cancer patients”. This multi-centre observational study looked at 890 cancer patients with confirmed COVID-19 to determine contribution of patients’ demographics and oncological features on the severity and mortality from COVID-19.

They found that males over the age of 65 with two or more comorbidities were at great risk of developing a complicated disease course. In addition, administration of cancer therapy did not detrimentally impact the disease course. Interestingly, they observed that COVID-19 mortality did not uniformly distribute across the types of malignancy. For example, patients with haematological malignancies had a poorer outcome compared to those with breast cancer.

Multiple myeloma infections and outcomes

The study published in Blood Cancer Discovery is titled “COVID-19 infections and clinical outcomes in patients with multiple myeloma in New York City: a cohort study from five academic centers”. The study looked at the outcomes and risks factors associated with serious COVID-19 infection in patients with multiple myeloma. To date, this study consists of the largest cohort of COVID-19 hospitalisations in patients with multiple myeloma.

Of the 100 multiple myeloma patients diagnosed with COVID-19, 75 were hospitalised, 13 were placed on ventilation and sadly 22 died (a mortality rate of 29%). The researchers identified, as seen in other studies, that there was a link between higher risk of adverse outcomes and race/ethnicity. Hispanic/Latino and Black African American patients had a higher risk of adverse outcomes compared to White patients.  

These papers contribute to the ongoing research into COVID-19 and the impact it is having on such vulnerable groups. The consideration of demographic factors in cancer care during this time will support stratification of patients and preserve oncological outcomes.

 Image credit: Medical photo created by kjpargeter –

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Cancer / covid-19