ON THIS PAGE: You will read about your medical care after treatment is finished and why this follow-up care is important. To see other pages in this guide, use the colored boxes on the right side of your screen, or click “Next” at the bottom.
After treatment for HCL or PLL ends, talk with your doctor about developing a follow-up care plan. This plan may include regular physical examinations, blood tests, bone marrow biopsies, and possibly scans or other imaging tests to monitor your recovery for the coming months and years.
In addition to watching for a recurrence, doctors will also monitor you for possible side effects during follow-up care. Talk with your doctor about what you can expect based on your specific treatment plan. Several long-term side effects from treatments for HCL and PLL may occur:
- Lung damage from certain drugs or radiation therapy to the lungs.
- A weakened heart muscle from higher doses of doxorubicin (Adriamycin) or radiation therapy to the chest.
- Infertility (inability to have a child) or premature menopause from high-dose cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan, Neosar) or other chemotherapy.
- A secondary leukemia or a secondary cancer (a cancer that develops because of the treatment for another type of cancer) is more common after treatment with chemotherapy. Specifically, people with CLL are at a higher risk for developing skin cancer and should protect their skin from the sun. They also have a higher risk of lung cancer, and smoking is strongly discouraged.
ASCO offers cancer treatment summary forms to help keep track of the treatment you received and develop a survivorship care plan once treatment is completed.
People recovering from HCL and PLL are encouraged to follow established guidelines for good health, such as maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, eating a balanced diet, and having recommended cancer screening tests. People experiencing a long-term remission are encouraged to follow cancer screening recommendations for the general population to watch for other types of cancer. Talk with your doctor to develop a plan that is best for your needs. Moderate physical activity can help rebuild your strength and energy level. Your doctor can help you create an appropriate exercise plan based upon your needs, physical abilities, and fitness level. Learn more about the next steps to take in survivorship, including making positive lifestyle changes.
To continue reading this guide, choose “Next” (below, right) for a list of questions you may want to ask your doctor. Or, use the colored boxes located on the right side of your screen to visit any section.