Blood cancers

Haematological cancers associated with poor COVID-19 outcomes

Haematological cancers appear to be associated with poor outcomes in COVID-19 disease, according to presentations at a special session the AACR 2020 virtual meeting this month.

Dr Fabrice Barlesi from the Gustave Roussy Cancer Campus in Paris reported a review of outcomes for 137 patients with cancer and COVID-19 disease, noting that the overall mortality rate (14.6%) was comparable to the estimated mortality rates from COVID-19 in France overall (17.9%) at the time of the study.

Significant predictors of clinical worsening included having a haematological cancer or having received chemotherapy treatment within the last three months, and having an ECOG status greater than 1. Among patients treated with chemotherapy, those with metastatic disease had an increased risk of death, while those with localised disease did not, as compared with patients that did not receive a recent chemotherapy treatment.

More than 20% of patients were asymptomatic for COVID-19. About 25% of patients exhibited clinical worsening, defined as the need for oxygen supplementation of 6 L/minute or more, or death of any cause. Overall, 11% of patients were admitted to the ICU, and nearly 15% of patients died. All fatalities were related to COVID-19.

Haematological cancer as a risk factor for disease severity was also seen in a New York study that evaluated 218 patients with cancer and COVID-19 treated in the Montefiore Health System. It found that patients with cancer had more than twice the odds of death compared to a cohort of 1,000 patients with COVID-19 without cancer treated at the same hospital.

Mortality rates among patients with cancer revealed that those with haematologic malignancies as well as those with lung, gastrointestinal or gynaecologic malignancies had the highest rates of death.

The AACR 2020 meeting also heard reports from European oncologists suggesting that lung involvement may be a risk for higher mortality with COVID-19 disease.

AACR President-Elect Dr Antoni Ribas told the meeting that the AACR has set up a COVID-19 and Cancer Task Force and will include sessions on COVID-19 and cancer in Virtual Annual Meeting II, held June 22-24. The AACR is also holding a dedicated meeting focused on COVID-19 and cancer in July.

This feature is based on an article published on 1 May from Cancer Research Catalyst, the American Association for Cancer Research’s official blog.

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