No Increased Risk of Hospitalization or Death for Women Treated for Cancer During COVID-19

Women receiving treatment for ovarian, uterine, and cervical cancers in New York City are not at increased risk of hospitalization or death during COVID-19, according to a study published in the journal of Cancer.

In this study, researchers reviewed the medical records of women treated for both COVID-19 and gynecologic cancer at area hospitals between March 1 and April 22, 2020. The study included patients from NYU Langone’s Perlmutter Cancer Center, NYC Health + Hospitals Bellevue Hospital, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Columbia University Medical Center, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, and the Montefiore Medical System.

According to the results, the study showed that 54% of the women required hospitalization and among these, 25% died, for an overall death rate of 14%. The researchers noted these data are comparable to the results of another study, which showed a 21% death rate among all 5,700 hospitalized patients with COVID-19 in the city, who were mostly male (60 percent) and at greater risk of the disease, researchers say. Moreover, the results further showed having late-stage gynecologic cancer, cancer surgery, or high-dose chemotherapy also did not increase a woman’s risk of dying from COVID-19.

“Our study should be reassuring for women with gynecologic cancers who are worried that having cancer increases their risk of becoming seriously ill if they go to the hospital because of COVID-19,” says study lead investigator Olivia Lara, MD, an oncology fellow in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Perlmutteri via a press release about the study. These patients already contend with increased inflammation and imbalanced immune systems that, in theory, coronavirus infection could make worse.

“Women with gynecologic cancers have the same risk factors for dying from COVID-19 as women without these cancers,” says study senior investigator Bhavana Pothuri, MD, MS, a professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Perlmutter.