Thanks to major advances in the understanding and treatment of lymphoma — one of the nation’s most commonly diagnosed cancers — more people than ever are enjoying productive lives for years and even decades after being declared free of the disease. But doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering and elsewhere have also found that over the course of time, many of these individuals develop complications from the treatment they received.
Even with improvements in approaches to radiation and chemotherapy, people may experience permanent damage that increases the risk for heart disease, skin cancer, lung conditions, and other illnesses.
“Since we know that many of our patients may experience long-term problems, we decided to initiate a program that could help quickly identify and address them,” explains hematologic oncologist Mathew Matasar. “And through clinical trials and other research, we’re looking for even more ways to keep our survivors healthy.”
Dedicated to Long-Term Survivors
Begun in 2014 and housed within the Lymphoma Service at MSK’s 64th Street Outpatient Center, the Lymphoma Survivorship Clinic welcomes MSK survivors of all ages, as well as people initially treated for the disease at other institutions. Unlike MSK’s Adult Long-Term Follow-Up Program (ALTFU) tailored to survivors of a range childhood (and some young adult) cancers, the clinic’s sole focus is survivors of lymphoma. The clinic starts caring for people as soon as three years after they end treatment.
- heart disease
- the development of second cancers such as breast, lung, and skin cancer and leukemia
- thinking and memory problems (commonly known as “chemobrain”)
- lung health
- bone health
- problems with teeth and gums
- reduced thyroid function
- dry eyes, cataracts, and other eye issues
- emotional and psychological health
And since the clinic is embedded in a comprehensive cancer center, “we’re prepared not only to give people the latest in care, screening, and surveillance, but also to easily send them to our other MSK experts if needed — people at the top of their field in survivorship issues such as heart, lung, and reproductive health,” explains Dr. Matasar.Back to top
As part of MSK’s larger program in cancer research and survivorship, the clinic is also able to offer access to clinical trials and other research that can help people facing the late effects of lymphoma treatment.
- How can doctors anticipate and assist women at risk for long-term sexual and reproductive health issues?
- Which interventions might best help problems with thinking and memory?
- Can cardiac MRI detect early changes in the heart among survivors of Hodgkin lymphoma?
It’s high time that lymphoma survivors get a specialized clinic of their own such as this, explains Dr. Matasar. “In part because the clinic is right here, embedded in our Lymphoma Service, we can deliver just the kind of care these patients need.”Back to top