Impact of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 infection on the outcome of primary central nervous system lymphoma treatment: A study of the International PCNSL Collaborative Group

Br J Haematol. 2022 Nov;199(4):507-519. doi: 10.1111/bjh.18396. Epub 2022 Aug 9.


To optimise management of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection identifying high-risk patients and maintaining treatment dose intensity is an important issue in patients with aggressive lymphomas. In the present study, we report on the presentation, management, and outcome of an international series of 91 patients with primary central nervous system lymphoma and SARS-CoV-2 infection. SARS-CoV-2 was diagnosed before/during first-line treatment in 64 patients, during follow-up in 21, and during salvage therapy in six. Among the 64 patients infected before/during first-line chemotherapy, 38 (59%) developed pneumonia and 26 (41%) did not clear the virus. Prolonged exposure to steroids before viral infection and/or treatment with high-dose cytarabine favoured pneumonia development and virus persistence and were associated with poorer survival; 81% of patients who did not clear virus died early from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Vaccination was associated with lower pneumonia incidence and in-hospital mortality. Chemotherapy was initiated/resumed in 43 (67%) patients, more commonly among patients who did not develop pneumonia, cleared the virus, or did not receive steroids during infection. Chemotherapy resumption in patients with viral persistence should be indicated cautiously as it was associated with a poorer survival (6-month, 70% and 87%, p = 0.07). None of the 21 patients infected during follow-up died from COVID-19, requiring similar measures as infected subjects in the general population.

Keywords: coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19); pneumonia; primary central nervous system lymphoma; severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2); steroid therapy; vaccine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Central Nervous System
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma* / drug therapy
  • SARS-CoV-2