CancerLinQ Data Reveals Black, Hispanic Patients With Cancer Face Greater Risk of COVID-19 Infection

Dec 21, 2020

A study presented at the 2020 Quality Care Symposium used data from ASCO’s CancerLinQ Discovery database to reveal that Black and Hispanic patients with cancer were more likely to be infected with COVID-19 than white patients. (Editor’s note: This summary includes updated data not available in the abstract.

The authors examined the records of 477,613 patients with cancer from the beginning of January to the end of August 2020. Patients with cancer and COVID-19 were identified in 23 of the 29 CancerLinQ practices reporting SARS-CoV-2 test results during the study period. Researchers found that Black patients with cancer were almost 2 times more likely (relative risk 1.69) and Hispanic patients were more than 5 times more likely (relative risk 5.25) to test positive for COVID-19 compared with white patients. Additionally, patients with hematologic cancers were 1.36 times more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19 compared to patients with solid tumors. The elevated risk among patients with hematologic cancers is noteworthy, as these individuals often have compromised immune systems and are already susceptible to many other types of infection.

“Patients with cancer are, unfortunately, faced with balancing cancer treatments with the risk of developing COVID-19,” said lead author Danielle Potter, PhD, who is a principal investigator and leads real-world evidence at CancerLinQ. “This research, while preliminary, will hopefully help patients and providers understand who’s most at risk for COVID-19 and plan cancer treatment accordingly.”

The CancerLinQ database, developed by ASCO, is a real-world oncology data platform developed by ASCO that collects and aggregates longitudinal electronic health record (EHR) data from oncology practices throughout the United States. The goal is to rapidly improve patient care and accelerate discovery by securely compiling, harmonizing, analyzing, and de-identifying vast amounts of information on patient characteristics (e.g., molecular profiles, comorbidities), treatments, and long-term side effects. By using data from approximately 2 million patients in near real time, CancerLinQ can identify trends and associations between myriad variables, thereby enabling physicians to generate new hypotheses and apply those conclusions to improve care in real-world settings.

“It’s important to emphasize how critically important it is to gather data specifically about patients with cancer during this pandemic,” said Robert S. Miller, MD, FACP, FASCO, medical director for CancerLinQ. “We have to better understand the risks to different populations to identify mitigation strategies. CancerLinQ surveillance is one of the ways that we can gain more information about patients with cancer during the pandemic.”

The authors plan to continue analyzing data as this patient population grows. They hope to examine whether other risk factors—such as stage at diagnosis, presence of certain malignancies, and certain types of cancer treatment—may also increase a patient’s risk for COVID-19. In addition, they plan to look for more specific risk factors for death related to COVID-19 in patients with cancer.

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