(HealthDay News) — Patients with cancer in Wuhan had an increased risk for severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection, according to a research letter published online March 25 in JAMA Oncology.

Jing Yu, M.D., from the Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University in China, and colleagues reviewed the medical records of 1,524 patients with cancer who were admitted to Zhongnan Hospital from Dec. 30, 2019, to Feb. 17, 2020. The outcomes of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) were assessed among these patients.

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The researchers estimated that the SARS-CoV-2 infection rate was 0.79 percent among patients with cancer, which was higher than the cumulative incidence of all COVID-19 cases in the city of Wuhan during the same period (0.37 percent; odds ratio, 2.31). Of the 12 infected patients, the median age was 66 years and eight were older than 60 years. Seven of the patients had non-small-cell lung carcinoma. Only five of the patients were being treated with chemotherapy with or without immunotherapy or with radiotherapy. Three patients developed severe acute respiratory syndrome and one required intensive-level care. Six patients had been discharged as of March 10, 2020, and three deaths were recorded.

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“We propose that aggressive measures be undertaken to reduce frequency of hospital visits of patients with cancer during a viral epidemic going forward,” the authors write. “For patients who require treatment, proper isolation protocols must be in place to mitigate the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection.”

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