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Risk of COVID-19 infections and of severe complications among survivors of childhood, adolescent, and young adult cancer: a population-based study in Ontario, Canada


Purpose — Survivors of childhood, adolescent, and young adult cancer are at risk of late effects, including pulmonary and infectious complications. Whether survivors are at increased risk of COVID-19 infection and severe complications is unknown.

Methods — Population-based registries in Ontario, Canada, identified all 5-year survivors of childhood cancer diagnosed age 0-17 years between 1985 and 2014, and of six common adolescent and young adult cancers diagnosed age 15-21 years between 1992 and 2012. Each survivor alive on January 1, 2020, was randomly matched by birth year, sex, and residence to 10 cancer-free population controls. Individuals were linked to population-based laboratory and healthcare databases to identify COVID-19 tests, vaccinations, infections, and severe outcomes (emergency department [ED] visits, hospitalizations, intensive care unit admissions, and death within 60 days). Demographic, disease, and treatment-related variables were examined as possible predictors of outcomes.

Results — Twelve thousand four hundred ten survivors were matched to 124,100 controls. Survivors were not at increased risk of receiving a positive COVID-19 test (386 [3.1%] v 3,946 [3.2%]; P = .68) and were more likely to be fully vaccinated (hazard ratio, 1.23; 95 CI, 1.20 to 1.37). No increase in risk among survivors was seen in emergency department visits (adjusted odds ratio, 1.2; 95 CI, 0.9 to 1.6; P = .19) or hospitalization (adjusted odds ratio, 1.8; 95 CI, 1.0 to 3.5; P = .07). No survivor experienced intensive care unit admission or died after COVID-19 infection. Pulmonary radiation or chemotherapies associated with pulmonary toxicity were not associated with increased risk.

Conclusion — Cancer survivors were not at increased risk of COVID-19 infections or severe sequelae. These results can inform risk-counseling of survivors and their caregivers. Further study is warranted to determine risk in older survivors, specific subsets of survivors, and that associated with novel COVID-19 variants.



Gupta S, Sutradhar R, Alexander S, Science M, Lau C, Nagamuthu C, Agha M, Nathan PC, Hodgson D. J Clin Oncol. 2022; 40(12):1281-90. Epub 2022 Feb 28.

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