Quality of life after the treatment
Quality of life after a lymphoma treatment depends on many factors: the patient’s age, the presence of other diseases, the response to the therapy (partial or complete) and its duration, social status, “aggressiveness” of the therapeutic journey, potential post-therapy complications.
In order to monitor the quality of life, the haematologist – oncologist will continue to follow the patient for the so-called follow-up (post-therapy evaluation period) during which periodical examinations will be carried out and potential therapies will be prescribed. During this phase, it is not uncommon for the patient to feel anxious (fear of relapse) or even “neglected” because of the reduced examinations in case of positive response to treatment.
Communication with the general practitioner remains fundamental both to be reassured in regards to timing and examination follow-up procedure as well as to monitor the possible side effects of long-term therapies.
Long-term side effects
By “Late Effects” we intend all pathologies that appear after a chemo-radiotherapy treatment and which are associated to it.
The main late side effects can be divided into 4 categories:
- Second Neoplasms: typically tardive, they may appear 10 or more years later and present an increased risk compared to normal population; a risk that is believed can persist for over 30 years after end of treatment. The most common are breast cancer, lung cancer and gastrointestinal tumour. Radiotherapy and alkylating agents are the most appropriated therapeutic measures. Habits such as smoking and alcohol consumption of course increase the risk of contracting such diseases especially lung and gastrointestinal cancer.
- Endocrinopathies: some therapies may ease the onset of disturbances in the way the endocrine glands dedicated to the production of hormones work.
- Skin diseases: some chemotherapeutic agents may have effects on the skin such as colour alteration, tendency to dehydration and hypersensitivity from sun exposure.
- Cardiac and pulmonary diseases: some anticancer medicines may cause cardiotoxicity. Such phenomenon may occur as a result of old generation drugs, such as anthracycline, as well as that of new generation drugs generally considered more selective.
To prevent or keep such side effects under control monitoring, both during the therapy as well as during the follow-up period, is planned. A healthy lifestyle (diet, physical activity, reduced alcohol consumption, no smoking) helps to prevent and to keep under control such side effects.
Some check-up exams are usually planned after the therapy and during the follow-up period; their type and frequency is based on the type of chemotherapy that has been carried out. Usually these are:
- heart exam and echocardiogram
- monitoring of the thyroid function (FT3, FT4, TSH) and a possible thyroid scan
- pulmonary monitoring (overall spirometry with lung volume evaluation)
Visit also the page of the Scientific Commission FIL long life survivors.