The novel coronavirus respiratory illness (COVID-19) is a public health emergency of global concern. Patients with cancer are at high risk of infections, due to an overall immunocompromised status. However, this connection is not straightforward for coronavirus (CoV) infection, in which the host immune response is the main driver of tissue damage. We performed a thorough review of data on CoV pathogenesis and morbidity rate in cancer patients, through the analysis of the previous CoV pandemics. Considering the interaction between CoV and the host immune system, cancer patients receiving immunotherapy might be more at risk for an aberrant immune response in case of infection, and might therefore deserve additional precautions. The limited available data do not allow us to provide practical indications for the management of cancer patients in this critical situation. Efforts should be made to prospectively collect data, to identify effective interventions to guide treatment decision.
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