Researchers are learning more about the risks cancer patients face if they become sick with Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus that has swept the world.
Patients whose cancer was getting worse or spreading were more than five times more likely to die in the space of a month if they caught Covid-19, researchers told a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology this week.
Even if their cancer wasn't spreading, coronavirus infection nearly doubled risk of dying, according to the early data, published in the medical journal The Lancet on Thursday.
The researchers from across North America and Europe looked at data on 928 Covid-19 cases from between March and April.
Overall, 121 patients total — or 13% — died during the study period and within 30 days of being diagnosed with Covid-19.
"While it’s not surprising, it’s informative that it looks like patients with cancer have twice the risk of dying than the general public," Dr. Jeremy Warner, who worked on the research and is an associate professor of medicine and biomedical informatics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told CNN on Thursday.
The new study comes with limitations. More research is needed to determine whether similar findings would emerge among a larger group of patients, and there are questions about whether Covid-19 impacts patients with certain types of cancer differently.
"This is early and evolving data, and more time and analysis will be needed to confirm and expand on these findings," Warner said in a statement.