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Prevalence and outcome of Covid-19 infection in cancer patients: a national VA study

By Nathanael R Fillmore, Jennifer La, Raphael E Szalat, David P Tuck, Vinh Nguyen, Cenk Yildirim, Nhan V Do, Mary T Brophy, Nikhil C Munshi

Posted 24 Aug 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.08.21.20177923

Background: Emerging data suggest variability in susceptibility and outcome to Covid-19 infection. Identifying the risk-factors associated with infection and outcomes in cancer patients is necessary to develop healthcare recommendations. Methods: We analyzed electronic health records of the US National Veterans Administration healthcare system and assessed the prevalence of Covid-19 infection in cancer patients. We evaluated the proportion of cancer patients tested for Covid-19 and their confirmed positivity, with clinical characteristics, and outcome, and stratified by demographics, comorbidities, cancer treatment and cancer type. Results: Of 22914 cancer patients tested for Covid-19, 1794 (7.8%) were positive. The prevalence of Covid-19 was similar across all ages. Higher prevalence was observed in African-American (AA) (15%) compared to white (5.5%; P<.001), in Hispanic vs non-Hispanic population and in patients with hematologic malignancy compared to those with solid tumors (10.9% vs 7.7%; P<.001). Conversely, prevalence was lower in current smoker patients, patients with other co-morbidities and having recently received cancer therapy (<6 months). The Covid-19 attributable mortality was 10.9%. Highest mortality rates were observed in older patients, those with renal dysfunction, higher Charlson co-morbidity score and with certain cancer types. Recent (<6 months) or past treatment did not influence mortality. Importantly, AA patients had 3.5-fold higher Covid-19 attributable hospitalization, however had similar mortality rate as white patients. Conclusion: Pre-existence of cancer affects both susceptibility to Covid-19 infection and eventual outcome. The overall Covid-19 attributable mortality in cancer patients is affected by age, co-morbidity and specific cancer types, however, race or recent treatment including immunotherapy does not impact outcome.

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