Recent cancer treatment modalities have been intensively focused on immunotherapy. The success of chimeric antigen receptor T cell therapy for treatment of refractory B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia has pushed forward research on hematological malignancies. Among the effector types of innate lymphocytes, natural killer (NK) cells show great importance in immune surveillance against infectious and tumor diseases. Particularly, the role of NK cells has been argued in either elimination of target tumor cells or escape of tumor cells from immune surveillance. Therefore, an NK cell activation approach has been explored. Recent findings demonstrate that invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells capable of producing IFN-γ when optimally activated can promptly trigger NK cells. Here, we review the role of NKT and/or NK cells and their interaction in anti-tumor responses by highlighting how innate immune cells recognize tumors, exert effector functions, and amplify adaptive immune responses. In addition, we discuss these innate lymphocytes in hematological disorders, particularly multiple myeloma and acute myeloid leukemia. The immune balance at different stages of both diseases is explored in light of disease progression. Various types of innate immunity-mediated therapeutic approaches, recent advances in clinical immunotherapies, and iNKT-mediated cancer immunotherapy as next-generation immunotherapy are then discussed.
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