Cancer patients infected with Coronavirus are three times more likely to die: Study
However, it is also important that patients receive their treatments on time and visit their doctors regularly.
A study has shown that cancer patients are more likely to get infected and die due to Coronavirus. Which, consequently has them afraid to visit hospitals as they could contract the infection. This trend has left doctors worried as it could have detrimental effects if they do not receive their treatments on time.
Dr Bhawna Sirohi, Director of Medical Oncology at Max Healthcare told PTI, “I feel patients, scared because of COVID-19, are not coming to hospitals and that is pushing them from early cancer too late stages."
The study looked at patients from 14 hospitals in Wuhan, China but the authors are situated all over the world in the US, China, and Singapore. They looked at 105 patients who are suffering from cancer and are infected with Coronavirus and compared them to 356 patients, of the same age as the first group but did not have cancer and were infected with the virus.
They found that patients who have blood cancer, lung cancer, or those who are in the last stage or metastatic cancer (stage IV) are three times more likely to die if infected with the virus. The type of cancer, along with the age of the person, the stage of cancer they are at, and the treatment they are undergoing, play an important factor as well.
A report from The Washington Post states, "Cancer patients also were more likely to experience 'severe events,' such as being admitted to intensive care units and needing mechanical ventilation, than people without cancer."
The study was released at the American Association for Cancer Research’s virtual annual meeting and published in the organization’s peer-reviewed journal, Cancer Discovery.
An abstract from the study states that "Patients who received surgery had higher risks of having severe events, while patients with the only radiotherapy did not demonstrate significant differences in severe events when compared to patients without cancer."
Cancer treatments like chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery leave patients vulnerable as it lowers the body's immune system which in turn makes them more likely to fall prey to infections. Even those patients that have had surgery in the past and have completed their treatments have a higher possibility of experiencing 'sever events' than those patients that haven't.
Dr Niranjan Naik, Director, Surgical Oncology, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurgaon told PTI, "COVID-19 crisis is posing a challenge as patients with low immunity are at a higher risk of contracting the virus."
However, this does not mean that cancer patients do no visit their doctors or receive their treatments, regularly, as it does help save their lives.
"The key aspect while making decisions is the cancer doubling time which is different for different cancers, with blood cancer being very aggressive as compared with breast cancer," Naik added.
Coronavirus is here to stay for the foreseeable future but that does not mean that cancer patients should stop their treatments. They just need to be more cautious.
“Stage 1 and 2 (of cancer) can become 3 and 4, it can become incurable, if you don’t act upon it,” Sirohi said.
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