Follow-up after treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma
Follow-up after treatment is an important part of cancer care. Follow-up for Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) is often shared among the cancer specialists (oncologists) and your family doctor. Your healthcare team will work with you to decide on follow-up care to meet your needs.
Don’t wait until your next scheduled appointment to report any new symptoms and symptoms that don’t go away. Tell your healthcare team if you have:
- any new lump or swelling
- fever that won’t go away
- night sweats
- weight loss for no reason
- itchy skin
- shortness of breath
- abdominal discomfort or pain
Schedule for follow-up visits
Follow-up visits for HL are usually scheduled:
- every 2–3 months after initial treatment
- 2–3 times each year for the first 5 years after treatment is finished
- at least once each year after 5 years following treatment
During follow-up visits
During a follow-up visit, your healthcare team will usually ask questions about the side effects of treatment and how you’re coping. They may also ask if you have any new symptoms and if your immunizations are up to date.
Your doctor may do a physical exam, including:
- checking for fever, shortness of breath and rapid heartbeat
- feeling the neck, under the arms and the groin for any swollen, or enlarged, lymph nodes
- feeling the abdomen for enlarged organs
Tests are often part of follow-up care. You may have:
- a complete blood count (CBC) to check for abnormal blood cell counts
- blood chemistry tests to show how well certain organs are working
- blood tests to check how well your thyroid is working (if radiation was given to the neck)
- imaging tests, such as chest x-ray, CT scan, MRI or ultrasound, to check if the spleen, liver or lymph nodes are enlarged
- a mammogram if radiation was given to the chest
Your doctor may order a bone marrow aspiration and biopsy if your blood tests are abnormal or if you have new symptoms.
If the cancer has come back, you and your healthcare team will discuss a plan for your treatment and care.
Questions to ask about follow-up
To make the decisions that are right for you, ask your healthcare team questions about follow-up.
What’s the lifetime risk of getting cancer?
The latest Canadian Cancer Statistics report shows about half of Canadians are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.