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Indian Journal of Medical and Paediatric Oncology
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COVID-19, cancer, and congregation: An observational study from a tertiary care hospital in New Delhi

1 Department of Medical Oncology, Malignant Diseases Treatment Centre, Army Hospital Research and Referral, New Delhi, India
2 Department of Medicine, Base Hospital, Delhi Cantt., New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Amol Patel,
Army Hospital Research and Referral, New Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijmpo.ijmpo_324_20

Objective: Indian data on cancer patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection and its outcome are limited. Infectivity and outcome among cancer patients staying in large congregations are not known. We conducted this study to address this lacuna in literature. Methods: This was a retrospective-prospective, observational study of hospitalized cancer patients with proven COVID-19 infection, conducted at tertiary care hospital in New Delhi after ethical approval. We analyzed clinical, laboratorial parameters, and outcomes in these patients. Results: All 32 admitted male patients became COVID-19 positive and 10 (31%) were symptomatic. Median age was 37.5 years (range: 16–64). Sixteen health-care workers (HCWs) were working in the cancer ward (paramedical staff - 4, nurses - 6, residents - 4, and consultants - 2). Among HCWs, 2 nursing staff and 3 paramedical staff contacted asymptomatic COVID-19. Eighteen (56%) and 14 (44%) patients were on curative and palliative treatment, respectively. Leukopenia (total leukocyte count <4000/μL) was seen in 37.5% of cases. Grades 4, 3, 2, and 1 neutropenia was present in 12.5%. Two (6.25%) patients had features of critical COVID-19. 8 (25%) patients received treatment with hydroxychloroquine + azithromycin. Five patients died. Three patients had features of progressive disease with poor performance status. One critical COVID patient survived and one succumbed to COVID-19. Patients shared a common dining room, sanitation area. Conclusion: Seventy percent of cancer patients were asymptomatic. Cancer patients living in congregation areas are susceptible to COVID-19 with 3% mortality rate. Recent chemotherapy and associated cytopenias may not increase the risk in cancer patients with COVID-19 treated with curative intent. Palliative intended patients are at increased risk of death. N-95, personal protective equipment and adherence to infection control measures should be encouraged.


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