Coronavirus and cancer: What survivors and immunocompromised patients need to know

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(A. Pawlowski/ — The coronavirus outbreak may be especially worrisome for the hundreds of thousands of Americans living with cancer.

Their immune systems are often immunocompromised — weakened by the disease and its treatments — putting them at higher risk for the severe form of COVID-19, the infection spreading around the world.

Research shows there’s reason to be concerned.

Among 44,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in China, 0.9% of patients who had no underlying medical conditions died as of last month, but that number rose to 6% for people with cancer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. (The death rate was even higher for people with heart disease, at 10.5%; and diabetes, at 7%.)

Compared to others, “patients with cancer were observed to have a higher risk of severe events” like requiring a breathing machine, wrote researchers in The Lancet after analyzing the cases of 18 cancer patients sick with COVID-19 in China. (…)

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