How the COVID-19 Pandemic Reshaped the Management of Leukemia and Affected Patient Outcomes

Academic Article


  • The coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic has posed numerous challenges to the global healthcare system. Of particular gravity is adult and pediatric patients with hematologic malignancies who are among the most vulnerable groups of patients at risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes. In the early phases of the pandemic, several treatment modifications were proposed for patients with leukemia. Largely speaking, these were adopting less-intense therapies and more utilization of the outpatient setting. Over time, our understanding and management have become more nuanced. Furthermore, equipped with vaccinations to prevent COVID-19 infection and availability of treatments in the presence of COVID-19 infection, the recommendations on management of patients with leukemia have evolved. Patient’s leukemia characteristics, possibility of targeted therapy, vaccination status, symptomatology, comorbidities, goal of anti-leukemic therapy, the intensity of therapy, the setting of treatment, as well as loco regional factors like dynamic incidence of COVID-19 in the community and hospital/ICU bed status are among many factors that influence the decisions. Furthermore, the oncology community has adopted delaying the anti-leukemia therapy for a limited time frame, if clinically possible, so as to still deliver most appropriate therapy while minimizing risks. Early adoption of growth factor support and conservative blood transfusion practices have helped as well. In this review, we discuss the impact of COVID-19 on outcomes and share considerations for treatments of leukemias. We describe the impact on both clinical care (from diagnosis to treatment) and research, and cover the literature on vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 in relation to leukemia.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Sharafeldin N; Bates B; Vachhani P
  • Start Page

  • 688
  • End Page

  • 702
  • Volume

  • 23
  • Issue

  • 5