When undergoing treatment most people expect to experience side effects. Nevertheless, survivors still find it surprising that certain side effects can persist beyond the period of treatment. Those are called long-term side effects. Other side effects which are called late effects can occur months or even years later. Long-term and late effects can involve physical as well as emotional changes.
Talk to your doctor about your risk of developing such side effects based on your cancer type, treatment plan and overall health. If you had a treatment known to cause specific late effects, you may have some medical examinations, scans, or blood tests to help find and manage these. Special care should be given to cancer screening and detection along with heart risk factors throughout the lifetime of the patient. Monitoring thyroid gland function is important for people who received radiation therapy to the neck or chest.
There is a risk of late effects affecting the heart so it may be recommended to check annual blood pressure, measure cholesterol and manage any risk factors for heart problems. Cardiac echocardiogram may be recommended every 5 to 10 years, particularly in those who received radiation therapy to the chest as part of their treatment plan.
Follow-up care should also address the quality of life of the individual including emotional concerns. Survivors of Hodgkin’s lymphoma are encouraged to be aware of the symptoms of depression in particular and immediately talk to their doctor if they have such symptoms.