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Study Examines Effect of Cancer Treatment on COVID-19 Mortality

Last Updated: September 22, 2020.

Cancer patients treated one to three months prior to COVID-19 diagnosis and those treated with chemoimmunotherapy have the highest 30-day mortality, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the European Society for Medical Oncology, held virtually from Sept. 19 to 21.

TUESDAY, Sept. 22, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Cancer patients treated one to three months prior to COVID-19 diagnosis and those treated with chemoimmunotherapy have the highest 30-day mortality, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the European Society for Medical Oncology, held virtually from Sept. 19 to 21.

Trisha M. Wise-Draper, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center, and colleagues examined outcomes related to systemic cancer treatment within one year of laboratory-confirmed severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection. Data were analyzed for 3,920 patients as of July 31, 2020.

The researchers found that 42 percent of the patients received systemic anticancer treatment within 12 months and 159 distinct medications were administered. Patients treated within one to three months prior to COVID-19 had the highest rates of COVID-19-associated complications; all-cause mortality was 26 percent in this group. By most recent treatment type, 30-day mortality was 20, 18, 17, 29, 20, and 11 percent for chemotherapy, immunotherapy, chemoradiotherapy, chemoimmunotherapy, targeted therapy, and endocrine therapy, respectively. The standardized incidence ratio for mortality was lowest for endocrine treatments and highest for chemoimmunotherapy or chemotherapy less than two weeks before COVID-19 diagnosis. Targeted agents within three to 12 months also had a high standardized incidence ratio. Mortality was 14 percent for patients untreated in the year prior to COVID-19 diagnosis.

"Targeted therapies, especially those causing immune cell depletion, used one to three months before [the diagnosis of] COVID-19, are associated with very high mortality, up to 50 percent," Wise-Draper said in a statement.

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