Researchers from the American Cancer Society stated that cancer survivors should be prioritized for vaccination against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) due to underlying medical conditions. This assertion was based on a survey published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

In this study, 6411 cancer survivors and 77,748 healthy adults were assessed for sociodemographic and clinical characteristics by the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).

Cancer survivors more frequently reported they had 1 or more (56.4% vs 41.6%) or 2 or more (22.9% vs 10.8%) underlying medical conditions compared with healthy adults, respectively.

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Among cancer survivors, comorbidities were enhanced in those who had survived kidney (73.9%), liver (71.8%), or uterine (71.5%) cancer and who were low income (71.7%), had public health insurance (71.2%), less than a high school education (68.0%), were Black (67.2%), men (59.9%), or living in the South (59.2%).

The most common comorbidities included obesity (30.8%), heart disease (25.1%), diabetes (17.0%), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (9.2%), and chronic kidney disease (5.6%). Except for obesity, other comorbidities had an increased prevalence among cancer survivors (all P <.001).

These findings may have included recall bias and not be generalizable as it has been established the NHIS respondents tended to be healthier compared with the general population.

The study authors concluded the prevalence of medical conditions associated with increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness among survivors of cancer was reported at a rate that was 50% higher than the general population. Survivors of cancer remain particularly vulnerable and should be prioritized in COVID-19 vaccination campaigns.

Disclosure: One author declared affiliations with industry or received funding from the pharmaceutical industry. Please refer to the original article for a full list of disclosures.


Jiang C, Yabroff R, Deng L, et al. Prevalence of underlying medical conditions associated with severe COVID-19 illness in adult cancer survivors in the United States. J Natl Cancer Inst. Published online February 3, 2021. doi:10.1093/jnci/djab012.

This article originally appeared on Oncology Nurse Advisor