BACKGROUND: Cancer seems to have an independent adverse prognostic effect on COVID-19-related mortality, but uncertainty exists regarding its effect across different patient subgroups. We report a population-based analysis of patients hospitalised with COVID-19 with prior or current solid cancer versus those without cancer.
METHODS: We analysed data of adult patients registered until 24 May 2020 in the Belgian nationwide database of Sciensano. The primary objective was in-hospital mortality within 30 days of COVID-19 diagnosis among patients with solid cancer versus patients without cancer. Severe event occurrence, a composite of intensive care unit admission, invasive ventilation and/or death, was a secondary objective. These endpoints were analysed across different patient subgroups. Multivariable logistic regression models were used to analyse the association between cancer and clinical characteristics (baseline analysis) and the effect of cancer on in-hospital mortality and on severe event occurrence, adjusting for clinical characteristics (in-hospital analysis).
RESULTS: A total of 13 594 patients (of whom 1187 with solid cancer (8.7%)) were evaluable for the baseline analysis and 10 486 (892 with solid cancer (8.5%)) for the in-hospital analysis. Patients with cancer were older and presented with less symptoms/signs and lung imaging alterations. The 30-day in-hospital mortality was higher in patients with solid cancer compared with patients without cancer (31.7% vs 20.0%, respectively; adjusted OR (aOR) 1.34; 95% CI 1.13 to 1.58). The aOR was 3.84 (95% CI 1.94 to 7.59) among younger patients (<60 years) and 2.27 (95% CI 1.41 to 3.64) among patients without other comorbidities. Severe event occurrence was similar in both groups (36.7% vs 28.8%; aOR 1.10; 95% CI 0.95 to 1.29).
CONCLUSIONS: This population-based analysis demonstrates that solid cancer is an independent adverse prognostic factor for in-hospital mortality among patients with COVID-19. This adverse effect was more pronounced among younger patients and those without other comorbidities. Patients with solid cancer should be prioritised in vaccination campaigns and in tailored containment measurements.