Study: More Than Half of Cancer Survivors Have Underlying Medical Conditions Associated With Severe COVID-19

The findings suggest that the prevalence of these conditions among cancer survivors is nearly 40% higher than that in the general population.

A new study finds that 56.4% of cancer survivors in the United States report having additional underlying medical conditions associated with severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) illness, according to a report published in JNCI: The Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The findings suggest that the prevalence of these conditions among cancer survivors is nearly 40% higher than that in the general population. Cancer and other underlying medical conditions, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes, are associated with increased risk of severe COVID-19 illness, according to the study authors.

Investigators used data from the 2016 to 2018 National Health Interview Survey, a national cross-sectional survey of the civilian, noninstitutionalized population, to examine the prevalence of underlying medical conditions associated with severe COVID-19 illness in adult cancer survivors in the United States.

“This study investigates the prevalence and factors associated with these underlying medical conditions among cancer survivors in the US,” said study investigator Charles Jiang, PhD, in a press release. “We felt it was important to compile and analyze the available data to inform the public and guide the policy makers on opportunities to prevent and control severe COVID-19—associated illness through strategies such as risk-stratified vaccine distribution.”

The findings showed that most cancer survivors reported having more than 1 of the conditions associated with severe COVID-19 illness and nearly one-quarter reported more than 2 conditions. These conditions were more prevalent in survivors of kidney, liver, and uterine cancers, as well as Black survivors, those with low socioeconomic status, and public insurance, according to the study authors.

Older age was associated with higher prevalence of medical conditions among cancer survivors and adults without a cancer history. However, in the youngest age group (18 to 44 years of age), nearly half of cancer survivors had at least 1 additional condition associated with severe COVID-19 illness.

In addition, medical conditions were more prevalent among male survivors (59.9%), those with less than high school completion (68.0%), non-Hispanic Black (67.2%), low income (71.7%), and those living in the South (59.2%), according to the study authors.

REFERENCE

More than half of cancer survivors have underlying medical conditions associated with severe COVID-19. American Cancer Society. http://pressroom.cancer.org/UnderlyingMedConditionsCOVID. Published February 3, 2021. Accessed February 3, 2021.