In a new study published online on February 21 in Cancer Cell, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System describe how cancer patients have fared during the Omicron surge. Their findings follow their earlier reports on health outcomes of cancer patients with COVID-19 and how well COVID-19 vaccination protected their health.
The new study involved 285 people with COVID-19 and cancer, whose outcomes were compared to a control group of COVID-19 patients without cancer. All participants were seen at Montefiore between December 1, 2021 and January 17, 2022—a period when Omicron accounted for approximately 90% of cases. Balazs Halmos, M.D., Amit Verma, M.B.B.S., and Vikas Mehta, M.D., found that those with cancer and COVID-19 were 2.5 times more likely to die than COVID-19 patients without cancer, after adjusting for age, gender, and vaccination status. The 4.9% mortality rate among these people with cancer was significantly lower than the 28% mortality rate for cancer patients with COVID-19 observed earlier in the pandemic, likely due to the availability of vaccination, better therapeutics, and possibly decreased virulence. Those at highest risk for death were older than 65 and with metastatic disease or other significant health problems. The authors recommended enhanced vaccination with boosters for anyone with a history of cancer patients as well as additional treatments, such as monoclonal antibodies and novel oral anti-virals, to prevent the worst outcomes.
Dr. Halmos is director of the Multidisciplinary Thoracic Oncology Program at Montefiore, professor of medicine at Einstein, and associate director of clinical science at Albert Einstein Cancer Center (AECC) Dr. Verma is associate director for translational research at AECC and professor and chief of the division of hemato-oncology at Einstein and Montefiore; Dr. Mehta is vice chair and associate professor of otorhinolaryngology - head & neck surgery at Einstein and Montefiore. First authors on this paper were Ryann Quinn, M.D., and Matthew Lee, M.D., both oncology fellows, and Kith Pradhan, Ph.D., assistant professor of epidemiology and population health.
Posted on: Friday, February 25, 2022