Characterizing cancer and COVID-19 outcomes using electronic health records

Youngran Kim, Liang Zhu, Huili Zhu, Xiaojin Li, Yan Huang, Chunhui Gu, Heather Bush, Caroline Chung, Guo Qiang Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Purpose Patients with cancer often have compromised immune system which can lead to worse COVID-19 outcomes. The purpose of this study is to assess the association between COVID-19 outcomes and existing cancer-specific characteristics. Patients and methods Patients aged 18 or older with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 between June 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020, were identified (n = 314 004) from the Optum® de-identified COVID-19 Electronic Health Record (EHR) derived from more than 700 hospitals and 7000 clinics in the United States. To allow sufficient observational time, patients with less than one year of medical history in the EHR dataset before their COVID-19 tests were excluded (n = 42 365). Assessed COVID-19 outcomes including all-cause 30-day mortality, hospitalization, ICU admission, and ventilator use, which were compared using relative risks (RRs) according to cancer status and treatments. Results Among 271 639 patients with COVID-19, 18 460 had at least one cancer diagnosis: 8034 with a history of cancer and 10 426 with newly diagnosed cancer within one year of COVID-19 infection. Patients with a cancer diagnosis were older and more likely to be male, white, Medicare beneficiaries, and have higher prevalences of chronic conditions. Cancer patients had higher risks for 30-day mortality (RR 1.07, 95% CI 1.01–1.14, P = 0.028) and hospitalization (RR 1.04, 95% CI 1.01–1.07, P = 0.006) but without significant differences in ICU admission and ventilator use compared to non-cancer patients. Recent cancer diagnoses were associated with higher risks for worse COVID-19 outcomes (RR for mortality 1.17, 95% CI 1.08–1.25, P<0.001 and RR for hospitalization 1.10, 95% CI 1.06–1.14, P<0.001), particularly among recent metastatic (stage IV), hematological, liver and lung cancers compared with the non-cancer group. Among COVID-19 patients with recent cancer diagnosis, mortality was associated with chemotherapy or radiation treatments within 3 months before COVID-19. Age, black patients, Medicare recipients, South geographic region, cardiovascular, diabetes, liver, and renal diseases were also associated with increased mortality. Conclusions and relevance Individuals with cancer had higher risks for 30-day mortality and hospitalization after SARSCoV-2 infection compared to patients without cancer. More specifically, patients with a cancer diagnosis within 1 year and those receiving active treatment were more vulnerable to worse COVID-19 outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0267584
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5 May
StatePublished - May 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Kim et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Characterizing cancer and COVID-19 outcomes using electronic health records'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this