COVID-19 death risk higher in cancer patients, study finds

Cancer patients with COVID-19 have a 12.5 percent higher death risk compared to non-cancer patients with the illness, according to a study published today in Cancer

The study included 312 COVID-19-positive cancer patients and 4,833 non-cancer COVID-19 patients. All patients in the observational study were from 36 Ochsner Health hospitals in Louisiana who tested positive for the virus between March 1 and April 30. 

Researchers found an overall 21.2 percent mortality rate for cancer patients with COVID-19, compared to an 8.7 percent rate in the non-cancer group. The study also found that patients with blood cancer had an increased risk (31.1 percent) of mortality compared to those with an oncologic malignancy (18.7 percent). 

Cancer patients who were over the age of 65, more recently diagnosed with cancer, had active or progressive cancer, or had a smoking history also had an increased COVID-19 mortality rate.

"Because we now have data showing that patients on active therapy are at an even more increased risk, extra efforts to protect these patients must be made," Michael Lunski, MD, oncologist at New Orleans-based Ochsner Medical Center and principal investigator of the study, said in a news release shared with Becker's. 

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