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Clinical outcomes in cancer patients with COVID-19 in Sweden

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journal contribution
posted on 07.12.2021, 07:40 by Lisa Bondeson, Anna Thulin, Lars Ny, Max Levin, Johanna Svensson, Magnus Lindh, Zhiyuan Zhao

The results of studies on the relationship between cancer and COVID-19 have been conflicting and therefore further studies are needed. We aimed to examine the incidence of COVID-19 among patients at one of the largest oncology departments in Sweden, and to evaluate and identify risk factors for poor outcomes, hospital care and death, associated with COVID-19 among cancer patients.

This retrospective study included cancer patients at a single center who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 by PCR either in hospital, primary health care center or commercial laboratory between 1 March and 14 August 2020. Clinical and demographic data were collected from the medical records. Logistic regression analysis was used to identify variables that associated the primary outcomes of need for hospital care and death within 30 days of positive test.

Of 10,774 patients from the Department of Oncology at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, 135 tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 (1.3%). Twenty-eight patients were excluded from further the data collection since they did not meet the inclusion criteria. Altogether, 107 cancer patients were included and the case fatality rate (CFR) was 12% (13) within 30 days of confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection by PCR. Increasing years of age (OR 1.10; CI 95% 1.03–1.18), palliative treatment intent (OR 15.7; CI 95% 1.8–135.8), and transition to end-of-life care (OR 52.0; CI 95% 3.7–735.6) were associated with increased odds of death within 30 days. Male sex was associated with needing hospital care (OR 3.7; CI 95% 1.50–9.1).

As in the general population, male sex was found to be at greater risk of needing hospital care for COVID-19, with terminal cancer disease, and older age increasing the odds of fatality. Compared to the general population, slightly more cancer patients had COVID-19. The CFR was within the lower range of others reported in cancer patients.


This study was financed by Sahlgrenska University Hospital and grants from the Swedish state under the agreement between the Swedish government and the county councils, the ALF-agreement.