Home / News / Covid complications linked to 16,000 cancer deaths in US: Study

A study has indicated that more than 16,000 cancer deaths from March to December 2020 in the United States were linked to complications due to Covid-19. The research was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Oncology. The research has found that a higher percentage of blood or prostate cancer deaths in the country were linked to complications due to Covid-19 as compared with cancer deaths without the disease.

Study author Xuesong Han from the American Cancer Society (ACS) said, "We know that cancer patients are at a higher risk of contracting Covid-19 due to weakened immune systems," adding, “Patients with hematological neoplasms or blood cancer and prostate cancer might be particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 complications and die from it."

The higher percentage of cancer-Covid-19 complications deaths happened among people who have been diagnosed with hematological neoplasms and prostate cancer, the researchers have found. This was as compared to the cancer deaths unrelated to Covid-19.

Hematological neoplasm is an abnormal mass of tissue located in the blood and blood-forming tissue.

Han said, “It is important to further study these patient populations to develop care strategies that reduce the risk of contracting the Covid-19 virus as well as optimise disease management for patients with comorbid Covid-19 infection."

Compared to cancer deaths unrelated to Covid-19, cancer-Covid-19 complicated deaths were more likely to occur in large metropolitan areas, among males, those who were 85 years or older, and racial/ethnic minorities, the team of researchers said.

The study also mentioned that most cancer deaths that are unrelated to Covid-19 occurred at home (53.2 per cent) or in health care facilities (10.8 per cent). A higher percentage, however, occurred in inpatient (61.5 per cent) or nursing home/long-term care (18.7 per cent ) settings.

For the study, the researchers identified and analysed 16,561 cancer-Covid-19 deaths for the study from March 2020 to December 2020. They used multiple cause-of-death database for the study.

"Future studies should also monitor the mortality burden from Covid-19 variants, such as Delta and Omicron, among patients with cancer, especially after vaccines became widely available," Han said.

(With agency inputs)

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