The following article features coverage from the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) 2020 meeting. Click here to read more of Cancer Therapy Advisor‘s conference coverage.

Black and Hispanic patients with cancer and COVID-19 infection experience higher rates of mortality than other racial or ethnic groups, according to early data from a study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research Virtual Annual Meeting I 2020.

As of April 22, 2020, New York City had 138,435 positive cases of COVID-19, 9944 confirmed deaths, and 5052 probable deaths. Rates of non-hospitalized, non-fatal hospitalized, and fatalities were higher among black/African American and Hispanic/Latino patients compared with patients who were white or Asian.

“Hispanic and blacks bear the brunt of the fatalities,” Louis Voigt, MD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, said.

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In addition, it is estimated that 6% of cases in New York City are among patients with cancer. Given this, and the disproportionate rate of COVID-19 infections, hospitalization, and deaths, the aim of this study was to characterize the outcomes of patients treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC).

Dr Voigt noted that the data have not yet been validated, and so should not be considered final.

There were 4200 patients with cancer tested for COVID-19 at MSKCC and 18% were positive as of April 22, 2020. Of these patients, 42.3% were hospitalized at MSKCC, with a mean length of stay of 10 days. Patients were discharged from the hospital in 54% of cases, 31% were still hospitalized at the time of the analysis, and 14% had died.

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Of the hospitalized patients, 23.9% were admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU), where 67% required mechanical ventilation and 8% required continuous renal replacement therapy. Of the patients who were ventilated, 25% were extubated and 8% underwent tracheostomy. For patients admitted to the ICU, the mean length of hospital stay was 20 days.

These data have not yet been evaluated for variables such as demographic variables, cancer type, and anticancer therapies. This is particularly important for populations that are known to be vulnerable, both to COVID-19 and to cancer. For example, African Americans are known to have a higher incidence of cancer and cancer-related mortality, as well as COVID-19 infection and COVID-19–related mortality.

Dr Voigt noted that there are “a lot of unanswered questions that need to be addressed.” He added: “The most vulnerable of us can fall through the system if we are not careful.”

Read more of Cancer Therapy Advisor‘s coverage of AACR 2020 meeting by visiting the conference page.


Voigt LP. COVID-19 and cancer: Flattening the curve but widening disparities. Presented at: American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Virtual Annual Meeting I; April 27-28, 2020. Plenary session.