Over 16,000 cancer deaths linked to COVID complications in US: Study
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Washington: More than 16,000 cancer deaths from March to December 2020 were linked to complications due to COVID-19 in the US, according to a study.

The research, published in Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Oncology, also found that a higher percentage of blood or prostate cancer deaths were linked to COVID-19 complications compared with cancer deaths without the disease.

“We know that cancer patients are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 due to weakened immune systems,” said study lead author Xuesong Han from the American Cancer Society (ACS).

“Patients with hematological neoplasms or blood cancer and prostate cancer might be particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 complications and die from it,” Han added.

The researchers found that a higher percentage of cancer-COVID-19 complicated deaths occurred among individuals with hematological neoplasms and prostate cancer compared to cancer deaths unrelated to COVID-19.

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

“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,” Han said.

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 said.

The study also found that most cancer deaths unrelated to COVID-19 occurred at home (53.2 per cent) or in health care facilities (10.8 per cent), while, a higher percentage of cancer-COVID-19 complicated deaths occurred in inpatient (61.5 per cent) or nursing home/long-term care (18.7 per cent ) settings.

The researchers identified and analysed 16,561 cancer-COVID-19 deaths for the study from March 2020 to December 2020 using the Multiple Cause of Death database with death certificate information for US residents.

“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.

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