Patients receiving chemotherapy for breast cancer do not have an increased risk for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection or mortality, according to a study scheduled to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, held virtually from June 4 to 8.

Douglas K. Marks, M.D., from the Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone Health in Mineola, New York, and colleagues abstracted clinical data from 3,778 breast cancer patients seen between Feb. 1 and May 1, 2020, to examine the risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection and mortality. Data were included for 3,062 patients, of whom 641 were tested for SARS-CoV-2.

The researchers found that 64 patients (2.1 percent) were diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2. Comparing 379 matched patients who received chemotherapy with 2,343 who received noncytotoxic therapies, there was no difference observed in the incidence of SARS-CoV-2 between the treatment groups (weighted risk, 3.5 versus 2.7 percent). During follow-up, 27 patients (0.9 percent) died, with 10 deaths due to SARS-CoV-2. There was no association seen between chemotherapy and an increased risk for death following SARS-CoV-2 infection (weighted risk, 0.7 versus 0.1 percent). Increased mortality following SARS-CoV-2 infection was seen in association with advanced disease, age, body mass index, and the Charlson Comorbidity Index score.

“Our results show that patients can safely receive breast cancer therapy, including chemotherapy, during the pandemic,” Marks said in a statement.

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