This Type of Cancer Increases Your Risk of Severe COVID by 60 Percent
A new study says it also causes patients' risk of dying from coronavirus to double.
There are numerous conditions widely reported to increase the severity of COVID—obesity, diabetes, and hypertension, just to name a few. However, new research reveals that a specific type of cancer can cause your risk of severe coronavirus complications to skyrocket, as well. According to an August 2020 study led by researchers at the University of Birmingham, individuals with hematologic malignancies—cancers affecting the blood, bone marrow, and lymph nodes—are 57 percent more likely to develop severe cases of COVID than those with solid tumor-based cancers.
The study, published in the journal The Lancet, followed 1,044 adults with cancer participating in the U.K. Coronavirus Cancer Monitoring Project (UKCCMP) between March 18 and May 8, 2020, 319 of whom died during the course of the study. The study's researchers found that, among those with blood or bone marrow cancers, leukemia patients were most likely to develop severe COVID complications and were more than twice as likely to die from COVID than the general study population.
Unfortunately, undergoing recent treatment for cancer was significantly associated with COVID-related mortality, too. Among patients with hematologic malignancies, individuals who'd recently been treated with chemotherapy were more than twice as likely to die during their hospitalization for coronavirus than the average study subject. However, among those with cancers presenting with solid organ tumors, recent chemotherapy was not associated with an increased risk of death.
Researchers found that other factors affected patients' overall risk of death during the study period, too, including age and sex. Male cancer patients were more likely to die during the study than their female counterparts, and the risk of COVID mortality increased significantly among all sexes after age 59. Of course, this has proven to be true of coronavirus in general, whether the patient has cancer or not. Previous research has shown that COVID-19 tends to be more fatal in men and is particularly lethal in older adults.
In a statement, the study's joint senior author, Rachel Kerr, a senior researcher at the University of Oxford's Department of Oncology, noted that these results may make it easier to tailor treatment plans to meet the needs of individuals with dual COVID and cancer diagnoses going forward. The study's findings "will enable us to create a tiered risk assessment tool so we can more precisely define the risk to a given cancer patient and move away from a blanket vulnerable policy for all cancer patients, in the event of a second wave of COVID-19," she explained. And if you're wondering what else puts you at risk for coronavirus complications, check out People Who Die From COVID Have These 2 Things in Common, Study Finds.