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Patients With Cancer Seem More Vulnerable to COVID-19

Frequency of severe events highest for patients with hematologic cancer, lung cancer, and metastatic cancer

cancer patient

MONDAY, May 4, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with cancer seem to be more vulnerable to COVID-19 and have higher risks for severe outcomes, according to a study published online April 28 in Cancer Discovery.

Mengyuan Dai, M.D., Ph.D., from the Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University in China, and colleagues performed a multicenter study involving 105 cancer patients and 536 age-matched noncancer patients confirmed with COVID-19 from 14 hospitals in Wuhan.

The researchers found that patients with cancer had higher observed death rates, higher rates of intensive care unit (ICU) admission, and higher rates of having at least one severe or critical symptom compared with noncancer COVID-19 patients (odds ratios, 2.34, 2.84, and 2.79, respectively); they also had higher chances of requiring invasive mechanical ventilation. These findings were similar after multivariable adjustment. The highest frequency of severe events was seen for patients with hematological cancer and lung cancer. Patients with metastatic cancer (stage IV) had higher risks for death, ICU admission, having severe conditions, and use of invasive mechanical ventilation, while no statistically significant differences were seen for patients with nonmetastatic cancer compared with those without cancer. Patients with cancer who received surgery had a higher frequency of severe events, while those receiving radiotherapy did not have significant differences in any severe events compared with those without cancer.

"We hope that our findings will help countries better protect patients with cancer affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic," the authors write.

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