Follow-up care in Hodgkin lymphoma patients primarily aims to detect potential relapses as early as possible. The earlier a relapse is treated, the better is the prognosis for the respective patient. Besides, follow-up examinations also aim to identify treatment-induced late toxicities. Apart from that, the physician conducting these examinations should also offer the patient advice and support concerning their plans for the future (family, job etc.) in view of the malignant disease they have overcome.
Patients should receive lifelong aftercare. Follow-up examinations should take place three, six and twelve months after end of treatment, every six months in the second, third and fourth year after end of treatment and once a year from then on.
Every follow-up examination consists of a detailed interview that explores potential symptoms of disease and a systematic physical examination. Other examinations may vary and are performed as indicated. During the first years after end of treatment, they usually include laboratory tests of the blood (blood count, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, etc.), an X-ray of the lung and an ultrasound examination of the abdomen. Besides, examinations to detect treatment-induced late effects (e.g. thyroid hormone test, ECG and lung function test) should be conducted regularly.
Because successfully cured Hodgkin lymphoma patients have an increased risk for the development of secondary malignancies, regular cancer screening examinations are absolutely essential for them.