The Link Between Covid-19 and Cancer Under Investigation

by | Jun 8, 2024 | Covid's Link to Cancer?

US Doctors Probing if COVID is to Blame for ‘Unusual’ Spike in Cancer After Pandemic: A slew of alarmed US doctors and scientists are currently investigating whether the COVID-19 virus is to blame for an “unusual pattern” of rare and deadly cancers that have been popping up in the wake of the pandemic.

The group of medical experts banded together to launch research studies and share data after concluding there was compelling evidence among their own patients to suggest a link between COVID and cancer diagnoses, the Washington Post reported.

“I’ve been in practice 23 years and have never seen anything like this,” Kashyap Patel, an oncologist in South Carolina and CEO of Carolina Blood and Cancer Care Associates, said of the uptick of cases he’s witnessed.

Patel, who is calling for a national registry to analyze trends, said he has has already collected data from dozens of his own patients showing a possible link between unusual cancers and long COVID.

“Hopefully, we’re wrong,” Afshin Beheshti, president of the COVID-19 International Research Team, said. “But everything is, unfortunately, pushing toward that being the case.”

Beheshti, whose background is in cancer biology and is among those trying to piece together the puzzle, said he noticed during the pandemic that cases and studies were showing COVID was causing widespread inflammation and infection in organs susceptible to cancer stem cell development.

“The signals seemed to be related to early cancer changes,” he said.

There are no real-world data or definitive studies yet on whether COVID has actually contributed to a spike in cancer cases.

While there has been an uptick in aggressive cancers since the pandemic broke out, some medical experts have pinned the trend on health care disruptions — including hospitals having to turn away cancer patients and those who didn’t get diagnosed early enough amid fears of the virus.

The US-based doctors, however, are calling on the federal government to prioritize the research — given such answers could affect treatment for cancer patients, as well as management of the disease, over the next several decades.

“We are completely under-investigating this virus,” Douglas C. Wallace, a University of Pennsylvania geneticist and evolutionary biologist, told the outlet.

“The effects of repeatedly getting this throughout our lives is going to be much more significant than people are thinking.”

“I would say most governments don’t want to think about long COVID and much less long COVID and cancer,” he continued. “It cost them so much to deal with COVID. So there is very little funding for the long-term effects of the virus. I don’t think that’s a wise choice.”

Wallace is currently probing how and if COVID affects cell energy production and cancer vulnerability.

Meanwhile, alternate studies from the other doctors are sequencing the gene profiles of cancer patients who died of COVID, as well as if the virus can reawaken dormant cancer cells in mice.

The research comes after a new study suggested COVID vaccines could be partly to blame for a rise in “unprecedented” excess deaths in the US and other Western countries in the three years since the pandemic took hold.

Analyzing mortality data from 47 Western countries, scientists from the Netherlands’ Vrije Universiteit found that excess mortality has “remained high” since 2020 — despite the widespread rollout of COVID vaccines and various containment measures.

The researchers said the trend “raised serious concerns” as they urged government leaders and policymakers to “thoroughly investigate the underlying causes of persistent excess mortality,” according to the study published in BMJ Public Health.