Top 5 Takeaways:

  1. Increased Risk for Cancer Patients: Individuals with cancer showed an elevated risk of dying from COVID-19, with 2.0% in 2020 and 2.4% in 2021 having COVID-19 as the underlying cause of death.
  2. Demographic Disparities: Higher death rates due to COVID-19 were observed in older adults, males, Hispanic or Latino, non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native, and non-Hispanic Black or African American populations, especially those with leukemia, lymphoma, or myeloma.
  3. Impact of COVID-19 Peaks: The percentage of cancer deaths where COVID-19 was the underlying cause varied, with notable increases during COVID-19 pandemic peaks.
  4. Preventive Interventions and Health Disparities: The results highlight the need for targeted COVID-19 prevention strategies and efforts to address health disparities and structural determinants of health among cancer survivors.
  5. Provisional Data Limitations: The data for 2021 and 2022 are provisional, and interpretations might change with additional information.


Original Article Author and Citation

Corresponding Author

S. Jane Henley,

Suggested Citation

Henley SJ, Dowling NF, Ahmad FB, Ellington TD, Wu M, Richardson LC. COVID-19 and Other Underlying Causes of Cancer Deaths — United States, January 2018–July 2022. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2022;71:1583–1588. DOI:


The report investigates deaths among cancer patients, with a focus on those for whom COVID-19 was listed as an underlying cause. It utilized data from the CDC’s National Vital Statistics System between January 2018 and July 2022. Approximately 13,000 weekly cancer deaths were reported, with a noticeable decrease in cancer being the underlying cause from 90% in 2018–2019 to 87% in 2021. The study found that 2.0% of cancer deaths in 2020 and 2.4% in 2021 were due to COVID-19, with variations depending on demographics and cancer type.


The analysis used final mortality data for 2018–2020 and provisional data for 2021–2022, focusing on U.S. residents. Death causes were coded according to ICD-10, with malignant neoplasm (C00–C97) being a primary focus. The data were examined across various demographics and cancer types.


This report indicates that an increasing number of cancer deaths were due to non-cancer conditions, particularly during COVID-19 peaks. It suggests that immunocompromised individuals, especially those with hematologic cancers, were more susceptible to COVID-19. The findings also emphasize the need for up-to-date COVID-19 vaccinations and other preventive measures for cancer patients.


The report concludes that specific demographic groups and cancer types face a higher risk of death from COVID-19. These insights could inform targeted interventions and policies to reduce health disparities and improve outcomes for cancer survivors, particularly those more vulnerable to COVID-19.


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