Among patients in New York City with gynecologic cancer and COVID-19, Black patients younger than 65 years of age were five times more likely to require hospitalization than non-Blacks in the same age group. Even though Black patients with gynecologic cancer represented only one-third of patients in this study, they accounted for 41 percent of deaths due to COVID-19 when compared with non-Black patients. These findings are published in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.
In the study of 193 patients treated at eight New York City hospitals, 71.6 percent of Black patients required hospitalization, compared with 46.0 percent of non-Black patients. Of the 34 patients (17.6 percent) who died from COVID-19, 14 (41.2 percent) of the patients were Black. Investigators found that the disparities in COVID-19 severity were driven by a higher prevalence of comorbidities among Black patients rather than aspects related to cancer or its treatment.
"The underlying causes of racial disparities are multifactorial and include limited access to healthcare, social determinants of health, racism, and discrimination. The COVID-19 pandemic has only heightened these and brought awareness," said senior author Bhavana Pothuri, MD, MS, of NYU Langone Health. "It is critical we learn from this and address these longstanding differences in health outcomes among Black patients not just in gynecologic cancer, but across all disciplines."