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Comment & Response
July 2, 2020

Risk of COVID-19 in Patients With Cancer

Author Affiliations
  • 1Inova Schar Cancer Institute, Fairfax, Virginia
  • 2Department of Medicine, University of Virginia Cancer Center, Charlottesville
  • 3George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Washington, DC
JAMA Oncol. Published online July 2, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2020.2583

To the Editor We are grateful to Yu et al1for their efforts to control the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and for taking time to collect and report their findings to advance care for patients elsewhere in the world.1 We greatly appreciated their proposal “that aggressive measures be undertaken to reduce frequency of hospital visits of patients with cancer during a viral epidemic going forward.”

However, basic statistical analysis of the data in Table 2 contradicts their interpretation (and now widespread reporting). In their review of medical records of 1524 patients with cancer admitted from December 30, 2019, to February 17, 2020, to Zhongnan Hospital, they reported 7 COVID-19 cases among the 228 who had non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The authors stated that “patients with NSCLC older than 60 years had a higher incidence of COVID-19 than those aged 60 years or younger (4.3% vs 1.8%).”1 These percentages correspond to 5 of 117 patients older than 60 years and 2 of 111 patients aged 60 years or younger. However, a standard χ2 analysis of this difference between patients in these age groups of 2.5% has 95% CIs of −2.6% to 8.0% with P = .28. So, their data are also consistent with their acknowledgment that “a population study of 1099 patients with COVID-19 did not indicate that age was associated with susceptibility to infection.”2

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