Hodgkin lymphoma survivors fail to receive recommended cancer screening tests, according to a study published in the journal Cancer (21 Apr 2010. [Epub ahead of print]).

For the study led by David Hodgson, a radiation oncologist at the Princess Margaret Hospital Cancer Program, University Health Network, and investigator at the Institute of Clinical Evaluative Sciences, researchers followed 2,071 Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) survivors for up to 15 years after their diagnosis. The team evaluated physician visits, imaging studies, and the use of routine and HL-specific cancer screening tests.

Researchers discovered that despite frequent contact with both specialists and primary care providers, HL survivors often did not receive recommended cancer screening tests. Among those who met criteria for routine screening, 62.5% were not screened for colorectal cancer, 32.2% were not screened for breast cancer, and 19.9% were not screened for cervical cancer.

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Most significant was the finding that 87.1% of young women potentially at high risk for breast cancer because of prior radiation therapy were not screened. Researchers explained that the results of the study indicate that the optimal follow-up care did not happen, even though most patients had visits with both a primary care provider and an oncologist in years 2 to 5.

“Most HL patients are cured, but they can be at risk many years later of developing secondary cancers or other late effects of their initial treatment,” said Dr. Hodgson. “This is why quality of follow-up care posttreatment is so important. And increasingly, it is also important for other survivors as cure rates for several forms of cancer improve.”