Biological sex may be a factor in COVID-19–related mortality among patients with cancer, according to study findings that researchers published in JAMA Oncology. They found that female patients were nearly twice as likely to die from infections than male patients.

For the cohort study, researchers looked at data from 1,622,755 patients in the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project’s National Inpatient Sample who were admitted to the hospital from April 1–December 31, 2020, with a COVID-19 diagnosis. Among those, the fatality rate was 12.9%, and many patients had comorbidities such as pneumonia (74.3%), respiratory failure (52.9%), cardiac arrythmia or cardiac arrest (29.3%), acute kidney injury (28.0%), sepsis (24.6%), shock (8.6%), cerebrovascular accident (5.2%), and venous thromboembolism or pulmonary embolism (5.0%).

After completing a multivariable analysis, the researchers found a twofold increased risk of death in females with anal cancer, Hodgkin or non-Hodgkin lymphoma, lung cancer, and ovarian cancer. Male patients with Kaposi sarcoma and malignant neoplasm in the small intestine also had a twofold increased risk of death from COVID-19 infection.

The researchers concluded that their findings “demonstrate the significant mortality of COVID-19 among patients with cancer and highlight the importance of prevention of COVID-19 for those with an active malignant neoplasm.”

Find the latest information and resources to support your patients in ONS’s COVID-19 Learning Library, ONS Voice’s “What Patients and Oncology Nurses Need to Know About Vaccination and Cancer,” and ONS Voice’s guide to “Infection Prevention for Oncology Nurses."