Recent Cancer Treatment May Increase Mortality Risk in Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients

Patients hospitalized with COVID-19 who had recent cancer treatment may have an increased risk of death, new research suggests.

“Patients with cancer have been reported to be more susceptible to infection because of their overall poor health conditions and immunosuppressive state caused by the malignancy and antitumor treatments,” the study authors explained. “However, because of the lack of sufficient clinical data regarding patients with cancer who are diagnosed with COVID‐19, the question of whether recent oncologic treatment is associated with a higher incidence of mortality remains to be elucidated.”

To explore this further, the researchers retrospectively reviewed patients with cancer who were hospitalized with COVID-19 in 33 hospitals in Hubei Province, China, between Jan. 1 and March 25. Follow-up was cut off at July 22.

A total of 248 patients were identified. The median age was 63 years, and a slightly greater proportion of patients (n=128, 52%) were male. Most patients (n=147, 59%) had not received recent cancer treatment upon admission. Among the patients who did, 32 patients (13%) underwent chemotherapy, 25 patients (10%) underwent surgery, 12 patients (5%) underwent targeted therapy, and 10 patients (4%) underwent radiotherapy.

Fifty-one patients (21%) were critically ill in the hospital; at final follow-up, 40 had died. Patients with recent cancer treatment, compared to those without, had a significantly higher mortality rate (24.8% vs. 10.2%; hazard ratio=2.010; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.079–3.747; P=0.027). In controlled analyses, independent associations between increased mortality risk and recent receipt of chemotherapy (odds ratio [OR]=7.495; 95% CI, 1.398–34.187; P=0.015]), surgery (OR=8.239; 95% CI, 1.637–41.955; P=0.012), and radiotherapy (OR=15.213; 95% CI, 2.091–110.691; P=0.007).

The study was published in Cancer.

“The results of the current study demonstrated a possible association between recent receipt of oncologic treatment and a higher risk of death among patients with carcinoma who are hospitalized with COVID‐19,” the study authors concluded. “Particular attention should be given to patients with carcinoma who are infected with COVID‐19 who have undergone recent oncologic treatment.”