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A study co-led by the University of Oxford and University of Birmingham, published in Lancet Oncology today by the UK Coronavirus Cancer Monitoring Project (UKCCMP), found that blood cancer patients were particularly at risk with 57% higher odds of severe disease if they contract COVID-19. This was when compared to other cancer patients, such as breast cancer, which was shown to have the lowest risk overall.

coronavirus cell © Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM

In line with what we already know about the coronavirus pandemic, age was shown to play a factor in the overall outcome, with cancer patients over the age of 80 found to have the highest frequency of fatality. As access to treatment remains of upmost importance, this information will help clinicians to guide patients to ensure they can have therapy safely and successfully during this time.

When COVID-19 spread globally in early 2020, cancer patients were identified as a sub-group who were potentially at an increased risk of infection of COVID-19 and of potentially suffering more serious disease consequences. It was this concern that led to the formation of the national UKCCMP project.

As cancer treatments need to carry on during the pandemic, this study gives clinicians and patients important information to make informed decisions about that treatment. The production of risk tables for different cancer types will let doctors discuss the risks and benefits with patients, so that together they can pick the best way to treat each person’s cancer. The study also gives an evidence base from which hospitals and other healthcare providers can design measures to ensure that they maintain access to life-saving treatments as safely as possible.

The full story is available on the Cancer Research UK Oxford centre website

This story is also featured on the University of Oxford website