Case abstraction study period was from 10 March to 7 April 2020. Follow-up of abstracted cases was until 7 May 2020.

Case abstraction study period was from 10 March to 7 April 2020. Follow-up of abstracted cases was until 7 May 2020. Courtesy of Nature Medicine


June 25, 2020 — The characterization of COVID-19 in patients with cancer remains limited in published studies and nationwide surveillance analyses. Reports from China and Italy have raised the possibility that patients with cancer on active therapy have a higher risk of COVID-19 related severe events, although there is a knowledge gap as to which aspects of cancer and its treatment increase the risk of severe COVID-19 disease.

A team of researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) reported on the epidemiology of COVID-19 illness experienced at an NCI-designated cancer center during the height of pandemic in New York City.

Bottom Line

According to a new study from Memorial Sloan Kettering published June 24 in Nature Medicine, patients in active cancer treatment who develop COVID-19 infection don't fare any worse than other hospitalized patients. Notably, metastatic disease, recent chemotherapy, or major surgery within the previous 30 days did not show a significant association with either hospitalization or severe respiratory illness due to COVID-19. Researchers say their findings suggest that no one should delay cancer treatment because of concerns about the virus.

Author Comments

"If you're an oncologist and you're trying to figure out whether to give patients chemotherapy, or if you're a patient who needs treatment, these findings should be very reassuring," said Ying Taur, M.D., Ph.D., an Infectious Disease Specialist at MSK.

"The course and clinical spectrum of this disease is still not fully understood and this is just one of many studies that will need to be done on the connections between cancer and COVID-19," explained Mini Kamboj, M.D., Chief Medical Epidemiologist, Infection Control at MSK. "But the big message now is clear: People shouldn't stop or postpone cancer treatment."

Method and Findings

The study looked at 423 MSK patients diagnosed with COVID-19 between March 10 and April 7. Overall, 40 percent were hospitalized for COVID-19, and 20 percent developed severe respiratory illness. About 9 percent had to be placed on a mechanical ventilator, and 12 percent died. The most frequent cancer types included solid tumors such as breast, colorectal, and lung cancer. Lymphoma was the most common hematologic malignancy. Over half of the cases were metastatic solid tumors.

Similar to other studies in the general population, the researchers found that age, race, cardiac disease, hypertension, and chronic kidney disease correlated with severe outcomes. The investigators found that patients taking immunotherapy drugs called immune checkpoint inhibitors were more likely to develop severe disease and require hospitalization. Further research is required to look at the effects of these drugs. But other cancer treatments, including chemotherapy and surgery, did not contribute to worse outcomes.

For more information: www.mskcc.org

Related Content

News | Coronavirus (COVID-19)

November 30, 2021 — COVID-19 of mild to moderate severity in pregnant women appears to have no effect on the brain of ...

Time November 30, 2021
arrow
News | Computed Tomography (CT)

November 30, 2021 — A three-year study of more than 1,000 patients found that the risk of delayed intracranial ...

Time November 30, 2021
arrow
News | Coronavirus (COVID-19)

November 29, 2021 — The largest multi-institutional international study to date on brain complications of COVID-19 has ...

Time November 29, 2021
arrow
News | Coronavirus (COVID-19)

November 29, 2021 — A small but significant percentage of college athletes with COVID-19 develop myocarditis, a ...

Time November 29, 2021
arrow
News | Coronavirus (COVID-19)

November 24, 2021 — Significant decreases in CT imaging for cancer persisted even after the peak of the COVID-19 ...

Time November 24, 2021
arrow
Videos | Radiation Therapy

Jeffrey T. Chapman, a medical student at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Explains how watching ...

Time November 24, 2021
arrow
News | Radiology Business

November 23, 2021 — Eight major radiology organizations are collaborating in the formation of a Radiology Health Equity ...

Time November 23, 2021
arrow
News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

November 23, 2021 — Researchers at Yale University analyzing specialized MRI exams found significant changes in the ...

Time November 23, 2021
arrow
News | Interventional Radiology

November 23, 2021 — A minimally invasive ablation procedure offers long-term relief for patients who experience chronic ...

Time November 23, 2021
arrow
News | Nuclear Imaging

November 22, 2021 — IBA, a leader in particle accelerator technology, and NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes LLC, a global ...

Time November 22, 2021
arrow
Subscribe Now