Lymphoma survivors may experience challenges during the transition from active care to survivorship care, according to results of a descriptive qualitative study conducted at a large specialist cancer center in Ireland. This study was published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing

Most studies investigating the perspectives and experiences of cancer survivors have been carried out in solid tumor settings; therefore, evidence that the needs and concerns of survivors of hematologic malignancies may differ in some ways is limited.

Patients who were aged 18 or older and had completed intensive treatment for lymphoma between 3 and 60 months prior were invited by letter to participate in a descriptive qualitative study. Of 64 patients, 14 agreed to phone interviews. 

In addition to demographic information, interview questions focused on patients’ feelings and opinions regarding completion of active treatment and their experiences during the end-of-treatment visit, if one was conducted. Responses were audio-recorded.

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Five main themes emerged when patients’ responses were analyzed, centered on the following areas: dealing with uncertainty, changed relationships, returning to work, extended recovery times, and concerns for the future. 

Responses were mixed regarding preparation for treatment cessation. For example, those respondents who had received intensive primary chemotherapy were more likely to encounter challenges due to the absence of monitoring by the treatment team. A number of respondents expressed concerns related to returning to work, citing immune deficiency and fatigue as their main barriers. Weight gain was another concern expressed by some participants. However, some reported improved interpersonal relationships. 

Most participants were in favor of receiving a written or electronic summary of treatment and survivorship care from a nurse specialist at a dedicated visit. 

“While the challenges of survivorship in lymphoma mirror those of other cancers, this cohort of patients require focused preparation for the end of active treatment and the transition to follow‐up care. Moreover, this patient group requires repeated specific education on late effects and second cancers, education with regards to identifying the signs of cancer recurrence and promotion of healthy lifestyle practices,” the study authors concluded. 

Reference

Hackett F, Dowling M. Lymphoma survivors’ experiences at the end of treatmentJ Clin Nurs. 2019;28(3-4):400-409.