Dr. Brufsky on the Risk COVID-19 Poses to Patients With Cancer


Adam M. Brufsky, MD, PhD, discusses the risk the coronavirus disease 2019 poses to patients with cancer.

Adam M. Brufsky, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and associate chief in the Division of Hematology/Oncology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, medical director, Magee-Women’s Cancer Program, co-director of the Comprehensive Breast Cancer Center, and associate director for Clinical Investigations at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Hillman Cancer Center, discusses the risk the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) poses to patients with cancer.

There are limited data regarding how COVID-19 affects patients with cancer, explains Brufsky. A small case study from Wuhan, China suggests that patients, specifically those with lung cancer or hematologic malignancies, who are on active chemotherapy may have worse outcomes than those who are not.

Individuals who have previously completed chemotherapy or are on active hormonal therapy are unlikely to be at an increased risk of developing severe complications from COVID-19, explains Brufsky. Conversely, patients who are on active chemotherapy, are older, have diabetes or hypertension, or are men, are at greater risk.

Moreover, these risk factors may influence how these patients are treated, says Brufsky. For example, when treating with adjuvant doxorubicin, hydrochloride, and cyclophosphamide followed by weekly paclitaxel, it may be beneficial to consider giving the paclitaxel first to avoid low blood counts, concludes Brufsky.

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