(HealthDay News) — More than half of cancer survivors have underlying medical conditions associated with severe COVID-19 illness, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart diseases, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and obesity, according to a study published online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Changchuan Jiang, MD, MPH, from the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, New York, and colleagues examined the prevalence and sociodemographic factors associated with underlying medical conditions that are linked to an increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness among 6411 cancer survivors and 77,748 adults without a cancer history.

The researchers found that 56.4% of cancer survivors reported having one or more of the conditions (compared with 41.6% among adults without a cancer history) and 22.9% of survivors reported two or more conditions, representing 8.7 and 3.5 million cancer survivors, respectively. The prevalence of these conditions was increased among survivors of kidney, liver, and uterine cancers and among Black survivors, those with public insurance, and those with low socioeconomic status.

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“Underlying medical conditions related to severe COVID-19 illness are common among cancer survivors, highlighting the need to protect this vulnerable population against transmission in health care facilities,” the authors write. “Now that safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines are available, cancer patients, survivors, caregivers, and their health care providers should be prioritized in vaccine allocation.”

One author disclosed financial ties to AstraZeneca.


Jiang C, Yabroff KR, Deng L, Perimbeti S, Han X. Prevalence of underlying medical conditions associated with severe COVID-19 illness in adult cancer survivors in the United States. J Natl Canc Inst. doi:10.1093/jnci/djab012