A large-scale study has found that people who have been diagnosed with cancer recently are more prone to catch COVID19 infection. They are at a greater risk of being diagnosed with severe COVID19 disease as well. As per the study, the risk is significantly high among Black people as compared to white people for both ailments. Experts have used artificial intelligence to observe the data of nearly 73 million people’s electronic health records in the US. They have said that people who have been diagnosed with leukemia, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, or lung cancer within a year are at a higher risk of COVID19 as compared to people who have been diagnosed with cancer long ago or have never been diagnosed with the dreaded disease. The risk of COVID19 has been even higher for Black people with cancer who have been diagnosed with breast, prostate, colorectal, or lung cancer.
The co-author of the study, Nathan Berger has said that African Americans, who have been detected with cancer, have been at a higher risk of COVID19 as compared to Caucasians. Black people are more likely to be hospitalized due to cancer alone and COVID19 or due to both diseases as compared to white people, said the author. Experts have said that death rates among Black people and white people have not reached statistical significance; the death rate among black people has been 18.5 percent and 13.5 percent among white people. The new study has found that death rates among Black and white people have been quite similar inside the hospitals, however, the death rate among Black people has been excessively high outside the hospitals. The combined rate of risk of cancer and COVID19 has been quite higher than the total number of cases with both diseases. Berger has said that a combination of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and cancer is quite interactive, which might lead to death. The death rate of this combination is quite higher than either of these ailments alone. The findings of the new study have been released in the journal JAMA Oncology.
Experts have said that blood cancers, such as leukemia or lymphoma occur when immune cells stop functioning the way they should, which helps the virus to invade the body easily. The COVID19 affects multiple organs in the body and mainly attacks the lungs. Therefore, lungs ruptured by cancer will be more vulnerable to COVID19. The duration of time since cancer has been diagnosed as well will contribute to the risk of COVID19. People who have been detected with cancer more recently will have a low level of immunity at the beginning of the treatment, which will allow the virus to infect more easily than those who have been diagnosed with cancer long ago. There are many societal factors responsible for Black people being at a higher risk of hospitalization due to cancer and COVID19. The rate of hospitalization for Black people is nearly 55.6 percent whereas, it goes down to be 43.2 percent for white people. Experts have said that low income, less opportunity to work from home, lack of access to medical care, and crowded housing might be the reasons for Black people being at a higher risk of both diseases. The new study has adjusted comorbidities such as diabetes, heart issues, hypertension, asthma, and obesity as well in the study, which are known to put people at a greater risk of coronavirus. Experts have said that even after excluding these factors, Black people have been at a 32.5 percent risk of COVID19 as compared to white people who have been at 19.1 percent risk of the virus.