Mortality Risk in Patients with Cancer and SARS-CoV-2 Higher Among Older Patients with B-Cell Malignancies, and Those Who Previously or Currently Smoke, According to New Study

San Francisco, CA ( -- A new study published in JCO Oncology Practice found that patients with certain cancers have a higher mortality risk than other cancer types if they have contracted the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). Specifically, older patients with B-cell malignancies who acquire SARS-CoV-2 who are undergoing cancer treatment are at increased risk of death compared to other patients with cancer. Previous or current tobacco users who are undergoing cancer treatment are also at increased risk of death if they test positive for SARS-CoV-2.

Analyzing patient outcomes from the ASCO Survey on COVID-19 in Oncology Registry (ASCO Registry), the study examined mortality rates at 30- and 90-days after testing positive for the virus in people with cancer who are undergoing anticancer drug-based therapy and who had not been vaccinated. The study found that patients aged 61 to 70 with B-cell malignancies had twice the mortality risk and patients over 70 had 4.5 times the mortality risk, compared to patients under 60. Current and previous tobacco use also increased risk of mortality, with a 30-day mortality estimate of 21% for tobacco users, compared with 11% for those who never used tobacco.

The implications of the study suggest that other risk factors (e.g., race, ethnicity) that are associated with poor outcomes in unvaccinated patients with COVID-19 and without cancer are mitigated in this patient population. That is, in the presence of cancer, for example, race and/or ethnicity does not appear to be associated with mortality risk. This suggests that cancer displaces certain other risk factors as they relate to mortality and severity of COVID-19.

The study also looked at COVID-19’s impact on cancer care treatment and found that 49% of patients undergoing drug-based anticancer therapy delayed one or more anticancer treatments. An additional 16% discontinued one or more treatments. Another 35% continued their treatment without change. Overall, delays and discontinuations of treatments were common, pointing to a need to track and further analyze the impact of these treatment changes.

Preliminarily selected for discussion and presented as a poster at ASCO’s 2021 Annual Meeting, the study used ASCO Registry data provided by 38 oncology practices from April 2020 through October 2020 and represents the experiences of 453 patients who were undergoing anticancer treatment during 2020 and prior to the availability of COVID-19 vaccines. Read the full study in JCO Oncology Practice.

Source: "Mortality Risk In Patients With Cancer And SARS-Cov-2 Higher Among Older Patients With B-Cell Malignancies, And Those Who Previously Or Currently Smoke, According To New Study". 2021. ASCO.