Cancer patients at greater risk of severe COVID-19: Study

London: People diagnosed with cancer more than 24 months ago are more likely to get severe Covid-19 infection, according to researchers.

Researchers analyzed 156 cancer patients

For the study, published in the journal Frontiers in Oncology, the researchers analysed the case of 156 cancer patients with confirmed Covid-19 diagnosis in London.

“Our findings provide the first insight into the possible effects of cancer and its treatments on Covid-19 outcomes,” said study researcher Mieke Van Hemelrijck from King’s College London, the UK.

Advanced statistical methods were employed to identify which demographic or clinical characteristics were associated with Covid-19 severity or death.

Patient follow-ups, conducted 37 days later, found 22 per cent patients from the cohort died from Covid-19 infection. Patients of the Asian ethnicity and those diagnosed with cancer over 24 months before the onset of Covid-19 symptoms were at higher risk.

Other high risk ailments

Patients with dyspnoea (shortness of breath) or high CRP levels (a common blood marker of inflammation) were also at higher risk from Covid-19. Severe Covid-19 infection was associated with fever, dyspnoea, gastro-intestinal symptoms or those with cancer.

Hypertension was the most reported co-morbidity followed by diabetes, renal impairment and cardiovascular disease. The most common tumour types were urological/gynaecological (29 per cent), haematological (18 per cent) and breast (15 per cent).

When classified according to the Covid-19 severity, the largest proportion of cancers were haematological (36 per cent). While 40 per cent patients had stage IV cancer, 46 per cent patients had been diagnosed with a malignancy in the last 12 months.

“Large studies with detailed information on Covid-19 safety measures and oncological care are warranted to explore the intersection of Covid-19 and cancer in terms of clinical outcomes,” Hemelrijck said.

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