A recent publication in The Lancet looked at the effect of COVID-19 on the treatment of people with cancer. Data from cancer patients living in the USA, Canada and Spain who were infected with coronavirus were analysed.

Nine hundred and twenty eight (928) people with an active or previous cancer and confirmed severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection were followed for 30 days to look at outcomes and prognosis.

Thirteen percent (13%) of people died during the 30-day follow up. The factors associated with increased mortality at 30 days were increasing age, male sex, smoking status, 2 or more underlying conditions, active cancer, moderate disability (confined to bed more than half the day), and people taking azithromycin plus hydroxychloroquine.

In conclusion, people with cancer appear to be at increased risk due to SARS-CoV-2 infection, regardless of whether they have active cancer, are on anticancer treatment, or both. However, recent surgery, recent non-cancer therapy, or recent anticancer therapy does not seem to affect mortality in people with cancer and SARS-CoV-2. This suggests that surgical and anticancer treatment, e.g. chemotherapy given with a curative intent, and maintenance chemotherapy could continue during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic with extreme caution. Studies with longer follow-up are needed to understand the impact of SARS-CoV-2 infection on patients with cancer, including the effect on cancer treatments.

Read more in The Lancet here