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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

Study Finds African-American Cancer Patients at Increased Risk from COVID-19

a photo of a test kit
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
A new study found that certain demographics of cancer patients are more at risk for COVID-19.

African-Americans have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. And a new study by researchers at Case Western Reserve University shows that extends into cancer patients.

Researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center studied electronic medical records of 73 million patients in the United States to identify high risk groups of cancer patients.

The study found that patients diagnosed with cancer within the last year are more at risk of contracting COVID-19 than those with longstanding diagnoses. And study co-author Dr. Nathan Berger says African American cancer patients are more likely to contract the disease than white cancer patients, with more severe effects.

“African Americans have a higher rate of hospitalizations and a higher rate of death than Caucasians.”

Berger says factors associated with systemic racism are contributing to this disparity. He says the study can help healthcare providers better understand the immune systems of cancer patients.

Berger says there are several hypotheses as to why patients diagnosed with cancer within the last year are more at risk for COVID-19 than people with longstanding diagnoses.


“The immune system is frequently compromised in cancer, and it’s probably more likely to be more compromised early on, and many people are getting chemotherapy then, which may further compromise their immune system.”

Berger hopes to use this information to protect these patients in the future.

Abigail Bottar covers Akron, Canton, Kent and the surrounding areas for Ideastream Public Media.