Chemotherapy and COVID-19 Outcomes in Patients with Cancer

Justin Jee, Michael B. Foote, Melissa Lumish, Aaron J. Stonestrom, Beatriz Wills, Varun Narendra, Viswatej Avutu, Yonina R. Murciano-Goroff, Jason E. Chan, Andriy Derkach, John Philip, Rimma Belenkaya, Marina Kerpelev, Molly Maloy, Adam Watson, Chris Fong, Yelena Janjigian, Luis A. Diaz, Kelly L. Bolton, Melissa S. Pessin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

193 Scopus citations


PURPOSE Coronavirus-2019 (COVID-19) mortality is higher in patients with cancer than in the general population, yet the cancer-associated risk factors for COVID-19 adverse outcomes are not fully characterized. PATIENTS AND METHODS We reviewed clinical characteristics and outcomes from patients with cancer and concurrent COVID-19 at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center until March 31, 2020 (n 5 309), and observed clinical end points until April 13, 2020. We hypothesized that cytotoxic chemotherapy administered within 35 days of a COVID-19 diagnosis is associated with an increased hazard ratio (HR) of severe or critical COVID-19. In secondary analyses, we estimated associations between specific clinical and laboratory variables and the incidence of a severe or critical COVID-19 event. RESULTS Cytotoxic chemotherapy administration was not significantly associated with a severe or critical COVID-19 event (HR, 1.10; 95% CI, 0.73 to 1.60). Hematologic malignancy was associated with increased COVID-19 severity (HR, 1.90; 95% CI, 1.30 to 2.80). Patients with lung cancer also demonstrated higher rates of severe or critical COVID-19 events (HR, 2.0; 95% CI, 1.20 to 3.30). Lymphopenia at COVID-19 diagnosis was associated with higher rates of severe or critical illness (HR, 2.10; 95% CI, 1.50 to 3.10). Patients with baseline neutropenia 14-90 days before COVID-19 diagnosis had worse outcomes (HR, 4.20; 95% CI, 1.70 to 11.00). Findings from these analyses remained consistent in a multivariable model and in multiple sensitivity analyses. The rate of adverse events was lower in a time-matched population of patients with cancer without COVID-19. CONCLUSION Recent cytotoxic chemotherapy treatment was not associated with adverse COVID-19 outcomes. Patients with active hematologic or lung malignancies, peri–COVID-19 lymphopenia, or baseline neutropenia had worse COVID-19 outcomes. Interactions among antineoplastic therapy, cancer type, and COVID-19 are complex and warrant further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3538-3546
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number30
StatePublished - Oct 20 2020


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