Cancer deaths due to COVID-19 explored in March to December 2020
From March to December 2020, more than 16,500 deaths occurred in cancer patients with complications of COVID-19, according to a research letter published online Sept. 29 in JAMA Oncology.
Xuesong Han, Ph.D., from the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, and colleagues quantified deaths that occurred between March 1, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2020, caused by both COVID-19 and cancer.
The researchers identified 3,142 cancer deaths with COVID-19 as a contributing cause and 13,419 COVID-19 deaths with cancer as a contributing cause. Deaths caused by both cancer and COVID-19 versus non-COVID-19-related cancer deaths were more likely to occur in large central metropolitan areas; in November or December; among individuals aged 85 years or older; among American Indian or Alaska Native, Black, or Hispanic racial and ethnic groups; and in inpatient or nursing home or long-term care settings. The percentage of COVID-19-related cancer deaths and cancer-related COVID-19 deaths was higher among individuals with hematologic neoplasms compared with non-COVID-19-related cancer deaths (13.7 and 25.5 percent, respectively, versus 9.5 percent). Prostate cancer was more prevalent among deaths caused by both cancer and COVID-19.
"We know that cancer patients are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 due to weakened immune systems," Han said in a statement. "It is important to further study these patient populations to develop care strategies that reduce the risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus as well as optimize disease management for patients with comorbid COVID-19 infection."
Two authors disclosed financial ties to AstraZeneca.
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