Breast cancer therapy doesn't increase risk of COVID-19 infection, death, study finds

Breast cancer patients receiving chemotherapy had about the same risk of contracting COVID-19 as those taking cancer drugs that don't weaken the immune system, according to a study led by NYU Langone Health researchers set to be presented June 4 at the 2021 American Society of Clinical Oncology's 2021 Annual Meeting. 

Researchers analyzed the medical records of more than 3,000 breast cancer patients who received care at the New York City-based health system's Perlmutter Cancer Center from February to May 2020. They compared those who received cytotoxic, or cell-killing, chemotherapy, which can weaken the body's immune system, to those who received other cancer drugs.  

Just 2 percent of patients, or 64 people, became infected with COVID-19. Of those, 10 died, which researchers said was expected, regardless of cancer, indicating that breast cancer treatment did not raise the risk of dying from COVID-19. 

"Our results show that patients can safely receive breast cancer therapy, including chemotherapy, during the pandemic," said Douglas Marks, MD, lead study investigator and medical oncologist at Perlmutter Cancer Center. 


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