Surveillance CT scans are a source of anxiety and fear of recurrence in long-term lymphoma survivors

C. A. Thompson, M. E. Charlson, E. Schenkein, M. T. Wells, R. R. Furman, R. Elstrom, J. Ruan, P. Martin, J. P. Leonard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


Background: We aimed to assess anxiety and the psychological impact of routine surveillance scans in long-term survivors of adult aggressive lymphoma. Patients and methods: In this cross-sectional observational study of 70 survivors of curable adult aggressive lymphoma, we measured anxiety and the doctor-patient relationship and performed a qualitative interview (n = 30) focused on patient perception of routine follow-up imaging studies.Results: Participants were diagnosed with aggressive lymphoma a median of 4.9 years (2.4-38.0 years) before enrollment. Thirty-seven percent of patients were found to meet criteria for clinically significant anxiety, which was not associated with years since diagnosis. In multivariate analysis, history of relapse and a worse doctor-patient relationship were independently associated with higher anxiety levels. Despite representing a largely cured population, in qualitative interviews patients reported fear of recurrence as a major concern and considerable anxiety around the time of a follow-up imaging scan.Conclusions: Routine surveillance scans exacerbate underlying anxiety symptoms and fear of recurrence in survivors of aggressive lymphoma. Strategies to minimize follow-up imaging and to improve doctor-patient communication should be prospectively evaluated to address these clinically significant issues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2262-2266
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of Oncology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2010


  • Anxiety
  • CT scans
  • Lymphoma
  • Survivor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology


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