Cancer and the risk of COVID-19 diagnosis, hospitalisation, and death: a population-based multi-state cohort study including 4,618,377 adults in Catalonia, Spain
Roel E., Pistillo A., Recalde M., Fernández-Bertolín S., Aragón M., Soerjomataram I., Jenab M., Puente D., Prieto-Alhambra D., Burn E., Duarte-Salles T.
AbstractObjectivesTo investigate the associations between cancer and risk of outpatient COVID-19 diagnosis, hospitalisation, and COVID-19-related death, overall and by years since cancer diagnosis (<1-year, 1-5-years, >5-years), sex, age, and cancer type.DesignPopulation-based cohort studySettingPrimary care electronic health records including ∼80% of the population in Catalonia, Spain, linked to hospital and mortality records between 1 March and 6 May 2020.ParticipantsIndividuals aged ≥18 years with at least one year of prior medical history available from the general population. Cancer was defined as any prior diagnosis of a primary invasive malignancy excluding non-melanoma skin cancer.Main outcome measuresCause-specific hazard ratios (aHR) with 95% confidence intervals for each outcome. Estimates were adjusted by age, sex, deprivation, smoking status, and comorbidities.ResultsWe included 4,618,377 adults, of which 260,667 (5.6%) had a history of cancer. Patients with cancer were older and had more comorbidities than cancer-free patients. A total of 98,951 individuals (5.5% with cancer) were diagnosed and 6,355 (16.4% with cancer) were directly hospitalised (no prior diagnosis) with COVID-19. Of those diagnosed, 6,851 were subsequently hospitalised (10.7% with cancer) and 3,227 died without being hospitalised (18.5% with cancer). Among those hospitalised, 1,963 (22.5% with cancer) died. Cancer was associated with an increased risk of COVID-19 diagnosis (aHR: 1.08; 95% confidence interval [1.05-1.11]); direct COVID-19 hospitalisation (1.33 [1.24-1.43]); and death following a COVID-19 hospitalisation (1.12 [1.01-1.25]). These associations were stronger for patients recently diagnosed with cancer, aged <70 years, and with haematological cancers.ConclusionsPatients recently diagnosed with cancer, aged <70 years, or with haematological cancers are a high-risk population for COVID-19 diagnosis and severity. These patients should be prioritised in COVID-19 vaccination campaigns and continued non-pharmaceutical interventions.What is already known on this subjectPrior studies addressing the relationship between cancer and COVID-19 infection and adverse outcomes have found conflicting resultsThe majority of these studies had small sample sizes, were not population-based (i.e. restricted to hospitalised patients), thus increasing the risks of selection and collider bias.In addition, they used different definitions for cancer (i.e. some included only patients with active cancer, while others focused on specific cancer types, etc.), which limits the comparability of their findings, and only a few analysed the effect of cancer across different patient subgroups.What this study addsWe conducted a population-based cohort study to analyse the associations between having a prior diagnosis of cancer and the risks of COVID-19 diagnosis, hospitalisation and COVID-19-related deaths from 1 March to 6 May 2020.In a population of 4,618,377 adults, we found that cancer was associated with an increased risk of COVID-19 diagnosis (aHR: 1.08; 95% confidence interval [1.05-1.11]); direct COVID-19 hospitalisation (1.33 [1.24-1.43]); and death following a COVID-19 hospitalisation (1.12 [1.01-1.25]).These risks were higher for patients recently diagnosed with cancer (within the last year), younger than 70 years, or with haematological cancers. We also found a particularly high risk of COVID-19 hospitalisation and death among patients with lung and bladder cancer.