Patients with hematologic malignancies are particularly vulnerable to infections due to underlying humoral and cellular immune dysfunction, cytotoxic chemotherapy regimens, advanced age, and the presence of comorbid conditions. Infection from severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, the causative agent of the COVID-19 pandemic, has become a leading cause of death globally and has disproportionally affected this high-risk population. Here, we review the cumulative evidence demonstrating worse outcomes for patients with hematologic malignancies when compared to patients with solid tumors and the general population. We examine risk factors shared with the general population (age, sex, comorbid conditions, and race) and those that are cancer-specific (cytotoxic chemotherapy, progressive disease, and cancer type), all of which confer an increased risk of severe COVID-19. Despite the historical exclusion of cancer patients from COVID-19 therapy trials, we review the emerging evidence that patients with hematologic malignancies benefit from specific treatments such as convalescent plasma. Although COVID-19 vaccines are significantly less effective in this patient population, encouraging results are observed in a subset of these patients after receiving a booster dose.
- Coronavirus disease 19
- Hematologic malignancies