COVID-19 and cancer

How do COVID-19 and Cancer Diagnoses and Treatment Intersect?

Because COVID-19 is caused by such a new virus, it is not yet clear how exactly it and cancer interact. However, some early studies do provide some limited insights.

A study out of China seems to indicate that cancer patients younger than 65 may be at an increased risk for death from COVID-19 compared to individuals in the same age group without cancer.

Another earlier study also from China found that age-matched COVID-19 patients with cancer were more likely to have severe disease when compared to similar patients without a cancer diagnosis.

A small study that looked at cancer patients who had received immunotherapy as part of their treatment found that this type of therapy did not appear to increase risk for more severe COVID-19 disease.

A larger UK study found that while cancer patients displayed a spectrum of disease severity, it was linked to risk factors that influence severity in patients without cancer like comorbidities, advanced age, and male sex, and that recent chemotherapy did not appear to increase risk of more severe disease.

Cancer patients may be at an increased risk for mental health issues during the COVID-19 crisis, driven in part by COVID-19-related anxiety. At this stage, while cancer patients may be at increased risk for more severe disease outcomes including death, cancer treatments do not appear to play a role in COVID-19 outcomes. As more studies are released, the relationship between COVID-19 and cancer will continue to be better understood.