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Coronacrazy coverage of COVID-19’s impact on cancer patients and POC

7 Jun
cancer and covid

Cancer and COVID-19: double trouble. Illustration by Kimberly Carney, Fred Hutch News Service

Like a lot of people, I’ve been consuming a ton of COVID-19 news and new research. And because it’s my job, I’ve been writing about it for the masses.

Two things seem very clear.

One, the novel coronavirus is more deadly to cancer patients who are older, who have other health conditions — think diabetes and hypertension — and who have active disease.

Here’s a piece I wrote for Fred Hutch that breaks it all down. It’s based on new data just out from the COVID-19 & Cancer Consortium, or CCC19.

Published in The Lancet, CCC19’s data comes from a crowdsourced cancer/COVID-19 patient registry which was put together by a handful of Twitter-savvy cancer researchers in a matter of weeks. Since then, it’s morphed into huge international collaboration with more than 2,000 patients and hundreds of clinicians, researchers and research institutions, all working to gather, analyze and disseminate crucial cancer/COVID-19 outcomes in near-real time.

Here’s a snippet and a link to the full story.

What happens when cancer patients get COVID?

Large new observational study of nearly 1,000 patients breaks down who’s most at risk with coronavirus, highlights need for additional care

The first large observational study of nearly 1,000 cancer patients who contracted COVID-19 was published today by The Lancet and simultaneously announced at a virtual ASCO 2020, the large annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

The findings, gleaned from over 100 institutions participating in the international COVID-19 & Cancer Consortium, or CCC19, patient registry, underscore how deadly the new coronavirus can be for patients with active cancer and other underlying health conditions.

“If you have active cancer and are older or have multiple comorbid conditions that require therapy, you are likely at much greater risk from complications of COVID-19,” said co-senior author Dr. Gary Lyman of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

“That’s one of the major findings and one of the most concerning findings. However, the risk is greatest in those with progressive disease and poor performance status and less when the cancer is stable or responding.”

The second thing, and this will come as no surprise to anybody who’s been paying attention to the Black Lives Matter speakers the last few days, COVID-19 is also disproportionately deadly to people of color.

It hits African-Americans, Hispanics, Indigenous people and other people of color much harder, just like cancer and chronic conditions like diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, etc.

With COVID-19, though, it goes deeper: it’s hitting black and brown populations harder because they’re more likely to be essential workers. They’re the ones working elbow-to-elbow in fruit and meat-packing plants. They’re the ones nursing COVID-19 patients in clinics and ERs. COVID-19 has exposed who’s privileged enough to safely shelter at home, safely work at home. And who isn’t.

It’s a new disease that’s underscored an age-old foe: racism and the systemic racism that’s baked into every one of our institutions.

Again, a snippet and a link to the full monty. Thanks, as always for the read. This is an important one.

COVID and cancer expose society’s health care gaps

Fred Hutch researchers work to disrupt health disparities and misinformation as coronavirus ravages the medically underserved

Disease hits black and brown people harder. Same for indigenous people, folks in rural areas, members of the LGBTQ community and others who are medically underserved. It’s what the research shows and what many of us have experienced firsthand.

These disparities aren’t the result of genetic predispositions, but societal ones. It’s the person’s socioeconomic status, their insurance and immigration status, the neighborhood where they live and whether they have access to (and can afford) health care, nutritious food, social support. It’s how people treat them based on their looks or their heritage. These are the things that truly dictate who gets sick and who dies.

It’s true for cancer, for cardiovascular disease and diabetes and in these times, for COVID-19.

“The disparities we see in COVID-19 are very consistent with most forms of cancer and most health conditions in the U.S.,” said Dr. Christopher Li, an epidemiologist with Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center at a recent Hutch Town Hall on health disparities.

And it’s crucial, especially as racial inequality has launched yet another national crisis, to understand them “within the context of the significant economic and social differences that exist in our society,” he said.

Finally, one last story from April (yes, I’m the world’s slowest blogger) on Treating Cancer in the Shadow of Coronavirus. It outlines what oncologists and cancer policymakers are doing to keep newly diagnosed cancer patients and those in treatment safe from infection with COVID-19.

Stay well, my friends. Keep wearing those masks, keep washing those hands, keeping lifting up the voices of those who matter and just keep swimming.

Cancer and the coronavirus: hard prep

3 May
COVID19 image double whammied blog

Ghecemy Lopez of Los Angeles, a two-time cancer survivor who now has immune issues. She dons plenty of PPE for her doctor’s visits. 

It’s pretty much been corona, corona, corona these last few months — even in Cancerland — and I don’t imagine that will change much moving forward.

States are starting to open up — Washington will get there eventually —and I pray everyone out there stays safe as we slowly creep forward with our masks and mad soap & water skillz and (hopefully) enough sense to stand far enough away from people that we don’t accidentally breathe in any virus particles they may be talking, sneezing, laughing, singing, coughing or farting our way.

Sadly, it looks like we’re going to be here a while. Yet another new normal.

Like everybody else, I’m hoping science can find or fast-track better treatments than remdesivir (the Tamiflu of COVID-19, just emergency approved by the FDA) and that other drug combo the orange guy in the White House keeps chatting up, along with sunlight and bleach, as a fabulous miracle cure.
FaceSlap
Like everybody else, I’m praying a vaccine isn’t too far off in the distance.
First time I typed that, I wrote vacuum, by the way, which may tell you where my head is.

I used to blame that sort of thing on chemo brain; now I think it’s more quarantine brain. It’s Tuesday, right? June 32?

As soon as we started hunkering down in early March and I saw how freaked out people were about the epidemic — all the uncertainty, the life or death odds, the extra precautions we all had to take to stay safe, the lack of a cure — it struck me as weirdly familiar. So I wrote about it for Fred Hutch News Service.

 

For those who’ve been diagnosed with cancer, the onset of the coronavirus pandemic has felt a little, well, familiar. The frantic Googling and data-gathering. The denial and disbelief. The uncertainty and panicky behavior. Cancer patients have been there.

Same goes for all the handwashing and hypervigilance. People who’ve been through surgery or radiation or chemotherapy or bone marrow transplants or other immunocompromising treatments are routinely forced to hunker down at home, avoiding crowds and friends with colds, skipping weddings and air travel and ordering their groceries online.

As one Seattle survivor put it, “I’ve sheltered in place lots of times.”

Did your cancer diagnosis and treatment ‘prep’ you for the COVID-19 pandemic? Certainly feels that way to me, same for the enforced quarantine after my ankle break last August.

Will the losses we’ve endured as cancer patients — family, friends, fellow advocates gone to another invisible enemy — help us bear the inevitable COVID-19 deaths ahead? It’s tough stuff, but as with cancer, we all have to somehow keep powering through.

But right now, it’s all feeling pretty old.

I’m getting corona-cranky after two months of hiding out at home. I’m angry about the people who’ve died and who keep dying because of our country’s clown car response to a deadly pandemic. I’m getting homesick (ironically) for restaurants and yoga studios and my old boring cubicle at work.

So I’m going back to peruse a few of these lessons from cancer patients in the time of coronavirus. Feel free to join me. Or send along your own. I’m having way too many arguments with my cat (and the little snot keeps winning).

#StayHomeStayAlive
#JustKeepSwimming
#FUcancer #FUcovid19

Coronavirus: what cancer patients need to know

8 Mar

CORONAVIRUS INFOGRAPHIC2So now there’s a pandemic. And my workplace and our scientists are right in the thick of it. I interviewed a couple of friends and Fred Hutch experts: one in infectious disease (Dr. Steve Pergam) and one in public health, health policy, outcomes AND oncology (Dr. Gary Lyman) to find out who’s most at risk for contracting COVID19.

That’s the brand new coronavirus that apparently leapt from some type of animal to somebody in China and now the infection has spread from there to Italy, Japan, Iran, South Korea, Thailand, you name it and now Seattle, where I’ve lived my entire “adult” life.

As it turns out, we’re now the country’s COVID19 epicenter. Not really all that much better than our previous reputation as Serial Killer Central.

Anyway, these two devoted scientists shared great data on COVID19 and who it picks on the most. They also had some great tips on little things we can do to boost our immune system (get that sleep!) and keep this new beast at bay.

Here’s their advice for cancer patients (past and present) and other folks with underlying health conditions (think COPD, heart disease, diabetes, HIV).

Wash your hands and read on.

Coronavirus: what cancer patients need to know: Advice for cancer patients, survivors and caregivers on who’s most at risk for COVID-19 and what you can do to stay healthy


FULL LINK:
https://www.fredhutch.org/en/news/center-news/2020/03/coronavirus-what-cancer-patients-need-to-know.html