Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a type of cancer that starts in the bone marrow but can quickly spread to the blood. This condition increases the risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19. The COVID-19 vaccine can lower these risks, but doctors must decide when is the right time for someone with AML to receive it.
AML is a rare form of cancer, accounting for around
AML usually develops from cells that would have turned into white blood cells. It is a rare form of cancer that weakens the immune system.
Treatments for AML can also affect the immune system by lowering the number of blood cells in the body. This means there is a greater risk of complications from COVID-19 in people with the condition.
The COVID-19 vaccine is
Keep reading to learn about the risks of COVID-19, vaccination, and AML.
According to the
AML is a type of
AML can quickly spread to other body parts, such as the liver or central nervous system.
People with blood cancers
AML causes some of the same
For example, AML that reduces the number of red or white blood cells can also result in headaches, chills, and breathing difficulties.
Consequently, people with AML could experience more intense COVID-19 symptoms than people without AML.
Learn more about symptoms of AML here.
According to the
In severe cases, COVID-19 can cause difficulty breathing, chest pain or pressure, or difficulty speaking and moving.
People with AML have a weakened immune system. This is typically a result of the condition, some forms of treatment, or both.
- radiation therapy
- chemotherapy with stem cell transplant
- other drug therapies
A weakened immune system
AML treatments can weaken the immune system.
For example, chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancerous cells or prevent them from dividing. It can reduce the number of neutrophils in the blood, which are a type of white blood cell. The immune system is less effective with fewer white blood cells to fight infections.
People with weakened immune systems from these treatments have a
Continue treatment and appointments
People with AML who are receiving treatment should continue attending appointments unless a medical professional advises otherwise.
However, it is important to contact a doctor before each appointment to discuss the risks of visiting a clinic and continuing treatment.
A doctor will decide how to treat AML within the context of COVID-19 on a case-by-case basis.
According to the American Society of Hematology, giving chemotherapy to a person with COVID-19 can carry some risks, as the chemotherapy may interact negatively with the COVID-19 treatment the person is receiving.
Doctors may adjust the intensity and nature of treatment plans for people with AML depending on their individual risks.
According to the
The COVID-19 vaccine is safe for people with cancer, including AML. However, the vaccine may be less effective at preventing COVID-19 in people with weakened immune systems. For this reason, doctors may suggest that some people with AML wait for their immune system to strengthen before they get the vaccine.
There is currently no evidence to suggest that one type of vaccine is safer or more effective than another in people with AML, as none of the current vaccines are live attenuated vaccines.
A guide to different COVID-19 vaccines
- The Pfizer vaccine for coronavirus
- Everything to know about the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine
- How does the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine work?
- Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine: What to know about side effects
- Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine: What are the side effects?
- Covaxin COVID-19 vaccine: What to know about side effects
All data and statistics are based on publicly available data at the time of publication. Some information may be out of date. Visit our coronavirus hub for the most recent information on the COVID-19 pandemic.
People with AML and other cancers have a
These risks make it essential that people with AML take extra precautions against infection. The
Some tips on protecting against COVID-19 in addition to vaccination
- wearing a tightly fitted face mask
- staying 6 feet, or approximately two arm lengths, away from other people
- avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated locations
- washing the hands and surfaces regularly
- covering coughs and sneezes with an elbow
- staying up to date on local COVID-19 guidance
- checking for COVID-19 symptoms regularly
Read a visual guide to proper hand-washing here.
People with AML, which is a rare type of cancer, have an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. This is due to the effects of the condition and some of its treatments.
The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective at preventing COVID-19, including in people with cancer. However, the COVID-19 vaccine may be less effective in people with weakened immune systems. People with AML may be undergoing treatments that weaken their immune system.
Doctors may recommend that a person wait for the immune system to strengthen, or suggest changing treatment approaches before the person receives the vaccine.