January 19, 2023

Inequities in cancer treatments after COVID-19 infection

By: Judy Mathias
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Editor's Note

This study led by researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, New York City, finds that race, ethnicity, and area-level social determinants of health (SDOH) were associated with delayed or discontinued cancer treatments and longer delays to restart drug-based therapies after COVID-19 infections.

The analysis included data on 4,768 patients enrolled in the American Society for Clinical Oncology COVID-19 Registry collected from April 1, 2020, to September 26, 2022.

Among the findings:

  • Compared with non-Hispanic White patients, Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black patients were more likely to experience a delay of at least 14 days or discontinuation of any treatment and drug-based treatment.
  • Area-level SDOH (eg, geography, proportion of residents without health insurance or with only a high school education, and lower median household income) were associated with delayed or discontinued treatment.
  • In multivariate analysis, Hispanic, non-Hispanic, Asian American or Pacific Islander, and non-Hispanic Black patients experienced longer delays to restarting pharmacotherapy compared with non-Hispanic White patients.

The researchers concluded that such treatment delays could exacerbate cancer survival inequities in the US for years to come.

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