Lymphoma - Non-Hodgkin: After Treatment

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 11/2014

ON THIS PAGE: You will read about your medical care after treatment for NHL has finished and why this follow-up care is important. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

After completing your treatment for NHL, talk with your doctor about developing a follow-up care plan. This plan may include regular physical examinations and/or medical tests to monitor your recovery for the coming months and years. For patients with aggressive lymphomas, visits are most frequent in the first three years following the end of treatment. For many aggressive lymphomas, there are very few recurrences after five years, and some oncologists will stop routine follow-up visits at this time. For slow-growing, or indolent, lymphomas, follow-up visits should continue throughout the person’s lifetime. Most doctors will see patients with indolent lymphomas between two and four times per year for a physical examination and blood tests. During this time, doctors may also monitor the disease with CT scans or PET scans.

Although these are very important tools for determining the disease’s response to treatment and monitoring for recurrence, there is debate over when and how often CT scans and PET scans should be used. As described in the Diagnosis section, both of these imaging tests cause the person to be exposed to a small amount of radiation, and an integrated (combined) PET-CT scan causes more radiation exposure than either one alone. Most physicians agree that performing routine scans, particularly when the person has no symptoms, may be exposing patients to unnecessary radiation, but there is limited guidance on how often these scans should be performed. Talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of these tests and whether another type of test that involves less exposure to radiation can be done.

ASCO offers cancer treatment summary forms to help keep track of the cancer treatment you received and develop a survivorship care plan once treatment is completed.

People recovering from NHL 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. 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.

The next section offers a list of questions you may want to ask. Use the menu on the side of your screen to select Questions to Ask the Doctor, or you can select another section, to continue reading this guide.