People with cancer diagnosis may face severe COVID-19 complications

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Scientists from the University of Wisconsin found that a current cancer diagnosis posed a significant risk for severe outcomes during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, including ICU admission and death.

The results showed that getting the COVID-19 vaccine strongly reduces the risk of death for cancer patients who develop COVID-19.

In the study, the team tested 104,590 patients at 21 health systems across the United States.

The sample included hospitalized patients who were diagnosed with COVID-19 from February 1, 2020, through September 30, 2021.

A total of 7,141 (6.8%) had a current diagnosis of cancer while 6,749 (6.5%) had a past history of cancer.

Seven types of cancer were examined (leukemia, multiple myeloma, lymphoma, prostate, breast, lung/bronchus, and digestive).

The team found all except cancer of the prostate were associated with a higher likelihood of in-hospital mortality compared with no current or past cancer history.

Stronger associations were noted for metastatic and hematologic (blood) cancers relative to non-metastatic solid tumor cancers.

An encouraging finding was that individuals with a past history of most types of cancer who were infected and hospitalized with COVID-19 were not at higher risk for severe outcomes, including death, compared to those with no current or past cancer history.

The team says while mortality and ICU admission rates for COVID-19 decreased during the course of the pandemic, the increased risk of current cancer on severe outcomes from COVID-19 remained constant across the first two years of the pandemic (2020 and 2021).

Moreover, vaccination prior to COVID-19 hospital admission substantially decreased the risk of ICU admission and death, regardless of cancer status. Both patients with and without cancer appeared to benefit from vaccination.

The team says what’s important for current cancer patients to know is that it is critically important to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and up to date on your boosters.

If you care about cancer, please read studies about a four-drug combo that may stop the spread of cancer, and drugs for inflammation may stop the spread of cancer.

For more information about COVID, please see recent studies about why smokers have a lower risk of COVID-19, and results showing COVID-19 is a vascular disease.

The research was published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention and conducted by Elisa Tong et al.

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