Patients with specific cancers may be at higher risk than those without cancer for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and its severe outcomes. At present, limited data are available on the risk, racial disparity, and outcomes for COVID-19 illness in patients with cancer.
To investigate how patients with specific types of cancer are at risk for COVID-19 infection and its adverse outcomes and whether there are cancer-specific race disparities for COVID-19 infection.
This retrospective case-control analysis of patient electronic health records included 73.4 million patients from 360 hospitals and 317 000 clinicians across 50 US states to August 14, 2020. The odds of COVID-19 infections for 13 common cancer types and adverse outcomes were assessed.
The exposure groups were patients diagnosed with a specific cancer, whereas the unexposed groups were patients without the specific cancer.
The adjusted odds ratio (aOR) and 95% CI were estimated using the Cochran-Mantel-Haenszel test for the risk of COVID-19 infection.
Among the 73.4 million patients included in the analysis (53.6% female), 2 523 920 had at least 1 of the 13 common cancers diagnosed (all cancer diagnosed within or before the last year), and 273 140 had recent cancer (cancer diagnosed within the last year). Among 16 570 patients diagnosed with COVID-19, 1200 had a cancer diagnosis and 690 had a recent cancer diagnosis of at least 1 of the 13 common cancers. Those with recent cancer diagnosis were at significantly increased risk for COVID-19 infection (aOR, 7.14 [95% CI, 6.91-7.39]; P < .001), with the strongest association for recently diagnosed leukemia (aOR, 12.16 [95% CI, 11.03-13.40]; P < .001), non-Hodgkin lymphoma (aOR, 8.54 [95% CI, 7.80-9.36]; P < .001), and lung cancer (aOR, 7.66 [95% CI, 7.07-8.29]; P < .001) and weakest for thyroid cancer (aOR, 3.10 [95% CI, 2.47-3.87]; P < .001). Among patients with recent cancer diagnosis, African Americans had a significantly higher risk for COVID-19 infection than White patients; this racial disparity was largest for breast cancer (aOR, 5.44 [95% CI, 4.69-6.31]; P < .001), followed by prostate cancer (aOR, 5.10 [95% CI, 4.34-5.98]; P < .001), colorectal cancer (aOR, 3.30 [95% CI, 2.55-4.26]; P < .001), and lung cancer (aOR, 2.53 [95% CI, 2.10-3.06]; P < .001). Patients with cancer and COVID-19 had significantly worse outcomes (hospitalization, 47.46%; death, 14.93%) than patients with COVID-19 without cancer (hospitalization, 24.26%; death, 5.26%) (P < .001) and patients with cancer without COVID-19 (hospitalization, 12.39%; death, 4.03%) (P < .001).
In this case-control study, patients with cancer were at significantly increased risk for COVID-19 infection and worse outcomes, which was further exacerbated among African Americans. These findings highlight the need to protect and monitor patients with cancer as part of the strategy to control the pandemic.
JAMA oncology. 2020 Dec 10 [Epub ahead of print]
QuanQiu Wang, Nathan A Berger, Rong Xu
Center for Artificial Intelligence in Drug Discovery, School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio., Center for Science, Health, and Society, School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio.