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People who have cancer are at risk for multiple health problems. Active treatment of the disease with chemotherapy can lead to immune suppression, failure to thrive, a decrease in physical and cognitive function, and other treatment-related toxicities. Some patients who have been previously treated for cancer are also predisposed to an increased incidence of cardiovascular disease, abnormal kidney function, and pulmonary insufficiency, all of which may affect the severity of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection and complications. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the issue of whether patients with cancer, either receiving active treatment or having survived cancer, are more vulnerable to the virus and its sequela than people without cancer. Due to the complexity of health issues in patients with cancer, the diversity of malignancies and treatments, and the limited number of individuals with both COVID-19 infection and cancer, the risk of death and serious complications due to the virus has been a challenge to define. Oncologists and their patients have had to make difficult decisions aimed at limiting potential exposure to the COIVD-19 virus that have influenced treatment choices and, in some cases, clinical outcomes based on scant evidence.
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Corresponding Author: Mary L. Disis, MD, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, University of Washington, 850 Republican St, Brotman 221, Box 358050, Seattle, WA 98195 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Disis reported grants from Pfizer, Bavarian Nordisk, Janssen, and Precigen; being the founder of Epithany; and listed on patents with the University of Washington outside the submitted work.
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