Healthy Living

Study Says Many Lymphoma Survivors Aren't Seeking Follow-Up Care

Study Says Many Lymphoma Survivors Aren't Seeking Follow-Up Care

Study Says Many Lymphoma Survivors Aren't Seeking Follow-Up Care

For a majority of patients with lymphoma, undergoing treatment can help to destroy the cancerous cells. While finally completing treatment can be relieving, it is a common concern among those who have had cancer that it might come back (known as recurrence). For some individuals, even several years after treatment, lymphoma may come back. For this reason, follow-up care is essential. The average follow-up care routine looks like this:

  • Follow-up every 2-6 months during the first one to two years after remission
  • Follow-up every 6-12 months during the three to five years after remission
  • Follow-up once a year after five years since remission

Follow-up care allows doctors to monitor any abnormal symptoms or masses that might present themselves because lymphoma may never completely go away. Treatments involving radiation, chemotherapy and other types of therapies can help ease symptoms and keep lymphoma under control for as long as possible.

Maintaining routine care

Apart from undergoing regular follow-up appointments, it is necessary to ensure one’s health and wellbeing during remission from lymphoma, by taking the following approaches:

  • Visiting a primary care physician once a year
  • Completing routine tests (cholesterol, blood pressure, and triglyceride levels, as well as thyroid function)
  • Getting a flu vaccination every year and pneumonia vaccination every 5 years
  • Performing a mammogram every year, starting from the age of 40

Many young adult lymphoma survivors aren’t getting the proper care

Yet, according to a new study conducted by researchers at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine, a majority of adolescent and young adult cancer survivors do not seek follow-up care to reduce their long terms risks of complications and cancer recurrence. “This is the part of life that is normally characterized by developing milestones like asserting identity, separating from parents, figuring out who you want to be, grappling with body image, who you are, existential questioning, all of those things are really hard,” said Abby Rosenberg, Medical Director of the Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology program at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Because of this, young cancer survivors may endure long-term effects of these changes, including wanting to move on with their lives and not seeking follow-up care.

More about the study

The study, named “Come back: Identifying targets to engage young adult survivors who have been lost to follow-up”, suggests that communication among patients and healthcare professionals may be in need of improvement. That it, patients and their families need to be educated on the vast significance of follow-up care. The research team’s initial study involved the participation of 27 young patients, who expressed several challenges with follow-up care, including: poor communication with their doctor, loss of health insurance, and difficulty adjusting to life after a cancer diagnosis.

In their latest study, the researchers assessed how and why several young patients did not seek follow-up care at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. They examined data from 2,367 patients, ages 18 to 39, who were diagnosed with five common types of cancer (melanoma, leukemia/lymphoma, breast cancer, thyroid cancer, and germ cell tumors) between 2000 and 2015. Their results revealed that 37% of all of the patients had not undergone any follow-up care since 2015.

Read on to learn more about this study and why this result is occurring.