Impact of Covid-19 on blood cancer patients assessed by Barts Health researchers

Clinical researchers at Barts Health and Queen Mary University of London have conducted a study into the outcomes of Covid-19 infection on patients with blood cancer.

Those with blood cancer are said to be at an increased risk of Covid-19 infection due to a weakened immune system as a result of the cancer treatment they receive.

Immunosuppression is also said to lead to more severe outcomes following infection.

The recent study has found that if a patient is fit and well, despite suffering from blood cancer, they usually recovered from Covid-19.

The study has been published in the British Journal of Haematology and looked at 35 adult patients with blood cancer who had tested positive for Covid-19 and monitored them for at least 14 days.

At the end of the observation period, 60% of patients had recovered from Covid-19.

Age was found to be the most significant factor of the Covid-19 infection outcome; almost all patients who were aged 70 or over died following Covid-19 diagnosis.

It must be noted that the patients who died also had co-existing health conditions such as hypertension, kidney disease or diabetes.

Lead author of the study, Dr John Riches from Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London said:

“Although this is a small and preliminary study, it is a first step in understanding the risk posed by Covid-19to patients with blood cancers.

“At the current time, all patients with certain blood cancers are being advised to ‘shield’ to try to minimise the risk of getting the virus.

“However, this study suggests that the risk of Covid-19 to younger patients with few or no medical conditions aside from their blood cancer is less than the risk to older patients with lots of other medical conditions.”

The data showed that patients with blood cancers have poorer outcomes than the general population, although the majority do survive following Covid-19 infection.

This study is the largest to date, although the findings will need to be confirmed in large national and international registry studies.