More than 16,000 people with COVID-19 and cancer died between March and December 2020 in the United States, according to data published in JAMA Oncology. 

The data revealed 13,419 COVID-19 deaths with cancer as a contributing cause and 3142 cancer deaths with COVID-19 as a contributing cause.

For this study, researchers used the Multiple Cause of Death database to identify deaths that occurred from March 1, 2020, to December 31, 2020, among US residents.  


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The researchers identified:

  • 497,965 non-COVID-19 cancer deaths
  • 337, 393 non-cancer-related COVID-19 deaths
  • 13,419 cancer-related COVID-19 deaths
  • 3142 COVID-19-related cancer deaths.

When compared with non-COVID-19-related cancer deaths, the deaths caused by both cancer and COVID-19 were more likely to have occurred in:

  • Large metropolitan areas
  • November or December 2020
  • People 85 years of age or older
  • American Indian, Alaska Native, Black, or Hispanic patients
  • Inpatient, nursing home, or long-term care settings. 

Deaths related to COVID-19 and cancer were more likely to occur in patients with hematologic neoplasms, when compared with non-COVID-19-related cancer deaths. The percentage of patients with hematologic cancers was 25.5% among cancer-related COVID-19 deaths, 13.7% among COVID-19-related cancer deaths, and 9.5% among non-COVID-19-related cancer deaths.

Among patients who died of cancer alone, the most common cancer type was lung cancer (22.5%). 

A novel finding of this research is that prostate cancer was more prevalent among deaths caused by both cancer and COVID-19 than among non-COVID-19-related cancer deaths. According to the researchers, this finding warrants further investigation. 

“Ongoing monitoring of the mortality burden from COVID-19 variants (eg, delta and omicron) among patients with cancer is warranted, especially after vaccines became available,” the researchers concluded.

Disclosures: Some study authors declared affiliations with biotech, pharmaceutical, and/or device companies. Please see the original reference for a full list of disclosures.

Reference

Han X, Hu X, Zhao J, Jemal A, Yabroff KR. Identification of deaths caused by cancer and COVID-19 in the US during March to December 2020. JAMA Oncol. Published online September 29, 2022. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2022.4315