The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented hurdles to the delivery of care to patients with cancer. Patients with hematologic malignancies appear to have a greater risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection and severe disease due to myelosuppression and lymphopenia. The first challenge, therefore, is how to continue to deliver effective, curative therapy to vulnerable patients and at the same time avoid exposing them, and their health care teams (HCT), to SARS-CoV-2. An additional challenge is the timely completion of the diagnostic and staging studies required to formulate appropriate treatment plans. Deferred procedures and avoidance of multiple trips to the surgical, diagnostic, and laboratory suites require same day consolidation of all procedures. With laboratory medicine absorbed by the need to deploy large scale COVID-testing, the availability of routine molecular tests is affected. Finally, we are increasingly faced with the challenge of making complex treatment decisions in SARS-CoV-2 positive patients with aggressive but potentially curable blood cancers. When to treat, how to treat, when to wait, how long to wait, how to predict and manage toxicities, and how to avoid compromising cure rates remains unknown. We present an outline of the scientific, medical, and operational challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic at selected American and European institutions and offer our current view of the key elements of a response. While the peak of the pandemic may be past us, in the absence of a vaccine risks remain, and our alertness and response to future challenges need to be refined and consolidated.
Isidori, Alessandro; de Leval, Laurence; Gergis, Usama; Musto, Pellegrino; and Porcu, Pierluigi, "Management of Patients With Hematologic Malignancies During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Practical Considerations and Lessons to Be Learned" (2020). Department of Medical Oncology Faculty Papers. Paper 122.
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