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Cancer and the risk of COVID-19 diagnosis, hospitalisation, and death: a population-based multi-state cohort study including 4,618,377 adults in Catalonia, Spain

By Elena Roel, Andrea Pistillo, Martina Recalde, Sergio Fernandez-Bertolin, Maria Aragon, Isabelle Soerjomataram, Mazda Jenab, Diana Puente, Daniel Prieto-Alhambra, Edward Burn, Talita Duarte-Salles

Posted 19 May 2021
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.05.18.21257371

Objectives: To investigate the associations between cancer and risk of outpatient COVID-19 diagnosis, hospitalisation, and COVID-19-related death, overall and by years since cancer diagnosis (<1-year, 1-5-years, >5-years), sex, age, and cancer type. Design: Population-based cohort study Setting: Primary care electronic health records including ~80% of the population in Catalonia, Spain, linked to hospital and mortality records between 1 March and 6 May 2020. Participants: Individuals aged [&ge;]18 years with at least one year of prior medical history available from the general population. Cancer was defined as any prior diagnosis of a primary invasive malignancy excluding non-melanoma skin cancer. Main outcome measures: Cause-specific hazard ratios (aHR) with 95% confidence intervals for each outcome. Estimates were adjusted by age, sex, deprivation, smoking status, and comorbidities. Results: We included 4,618,377 adults, of which 260,667 (5.6%) had a history of cancer. Patients with cancer were older and had more comorbidities than cancer-free patients. A total of 98,951 individuals (5.5% with cancer) were diagnosed and 6,355 (16.4% with cancer) were directly hospitalised (no prior diagnosis) with COVID-19. Of those diagnosed, 6,851 were subsequently hospitalised (10.7% with cancer) and 3,227 died without being hospitalised (18.5% with cancer). Among those hospitalised, 1,963 (22.5% with cancer) died. Cancer was associated with an increased risk of COVID-19 diagnosis (aHR: 1.08; 95% confidence interval [1.05-1.11]); direct COVID-19 hospitalisation (1.33 [1.24-1.43]); and death following a COVID-19 hospitalisation (1.12 [1.01-1.25]). These associations were stronger for patients recently diagnosed with cancer, aged <70 years, and with haematological cancers. Conclusions: Patients recently diagnosed with cancer, aged <70 years, or with haematological cancers are a high-risk population for COVID-19 diagnosis and severity. These patients should be prioritised in COVID-19 vaccination campaigns and continued non-pharmaceutical interventions.

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