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Current Affairs

Cancer patients face high risk of death from COVID-19

Date: 03 May 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Cancer patients with COVID-19 are much more likely to die due to novel coronavirus infection than those without the malignant disease, according to a study.

 

Background

The study emphasise on the need to prevent cancer patients from contracting COVID-19 and if they do, to identify and closely monitor these individuals for dangerous symptoms.

 

Details

  • The study, published in the journal Cancer Discovery, is the largest so far to assess outcomes for patients with cancer who have also been infected with COVID-19.

  • The scientists assessed 218 cancer patients who tested positive for COVID-19 from March 18 to April 8 at the Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, US -- one of the worst hit regions by the pandemic in the country.

  • They found that a total of 61 cancer patients died from COVID-19 -- a dramatically high case-fatality rate of 28%.

  • The data suggest that we should not stop lifesaving cancer therapies, but rather develop strategies to minimise potential COVID-19 exposures and re-evaluate therapies for our most vulnerable cancer populations.

  • However, even when compared to mortality rates in non-cancer patients at Montefiore and across New York City during the same time period, the study noted that cancer patients demonstrated a significantly higher risk of dying from COVID-19.

  • As a group, COVID-19 patients with hematologic (blood) cancers, such as leukaemia and lymphoma, had the highest mortality rate of 37% (20 of 54 patients), the scientists said. And for patients with solid malignancies, they said the mortality rate was 25% (41 of 164).

  • They said the mortality rate for patients with lung cancer was 55%, and for those with colorectal cancer, it was 38%, compared with mortality rates of 14% for breast cancer, and 20% for prostate cancer.

  • According to the study, certain underlying conditions such as older age, hypertension, heart disease, and chronic lung disease were significantly associated with increased mortality among cancer patients with COVID-19.

  • The researchers believe that further studies assessing a larger population of cancer patients with more rigorous control for other factors may help validate the findings.