Patients in cancer remission at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness

Patients with inactive cancer and not currently undergoing treatments also face a significantly higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, a new study from Penn Medicine published in JNCI Cancer Spectrum shows. Past reports have established an increased risk of severe disease and death for sick or hospitalized cancer patients with COVID-19 compared to patients without cancer, but less is known about patients in the general population.

African American person wearing a face mask having their temperature taken via forehead scanner by a masked, gloved medical professional.

The findings underscore the importance of COVID-19 mitigation, like social distancing and mask wearing, and vaccinations for all patients, not just those recently diagnosed or with active disease.

“Patients who have cancer need to be careful not to become exposed during this time,” says senior author Kara N. Maxwell, an assistant professor of hematology-oncology and genetics in the Perelman School of Medicine and a member of the Abramson Cancer Center and the Basser Center for BRCA. “That message has been out there, but these latest findings show us it’s not only for patients hospitalized or on treatment for their cancer. All oncology patients need to take significant precautions during the pandemic to protect themselves.”

Read more at Penn Medicine News.