Post-treatment follow-up visits
Patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma need to visit the lymphoma team on a regular basis during their treatment and after it has finished. During treatment, patients are usually seen by their doctor before each treatment session, and regularly at other times as well. In some countries, it is the clinical nurse specialist who is the main point of contact for patients, and in others it is the haematologist. Both can provide advice, guidance and other information.
After treatment has finished, how often appointments are needed depends on many factors, including the sort of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma a patient has, the type of treatment given and the patient's overall health. At first, the appointments are likely to be every month at least. If all is going well, the time between appointments may be gradually increased until they are perhaps only once a year. Most patients are asked to attend the clinic in this way in the long term, perhaps even indefinitely, even if there is no sign of lymphoma.
These appointments will be a chance for the doctor to find out how everything has been since the last visit, by asking questions and by performing a physical examination (see Questions the doctor may ask). Tests may also be performed or arranged. Some of these tests may be the same as the staging tests that are performed when non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is first diagnosed, including CT scans or PET scans, as well as blood tests. These repeat tests are a way of checking whether the lymphoma is relapsing or growing.
Just as importantly, these appointments are a chance for the patient to air any concerns and raise any questions with the doctor and other health professionals on the lymphoma team.