Background: The objective of this population-based study was to document the long-term effects (5-15 years postdiagnosis) of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and its treatment on health-related quality of life (HRQL) and social problems.
Methods: The population-based Eindhoven Cancer Registry was used to select all patients who were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma from 1989 to 1998. Three hundred sixty patients were invited to complete the 36-item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) and the Quality of Life-Cancer Survivors questionnaire, and 294 patients (82%) responded.
Results: Patients who had received chemotherapy reported significantly worse psychological and social well-being and health-related quality of life (HRQL) than patients who had not received chemotherapy. Radiotherapy and watchful waiting were not associated significantly with HRQL outcomes. Patients who were diagnosed from 10 to 15 years earlier reported better social well-being than patients who were diagnosed from 5 to 9 years earlier. Compared with an age-matched, normative sample from the general population, patients reported significantly worse general health and less vitality, but they reported less bodily pain. Practical problems were reported with work (41%), obtaining health care insurance (6%) and life insurance (15%), and obtaining a home mortgage (22%).
Conclusions: From 5 to 15 years after diagnosis, the general health perceptions and vitality levels of non-Hodgkin lymphoma survivors remained significantly lower than those of their peers in the of general population. In addition, survivors faced practical problems with work and finances that deserve additional attention during the period of rehabilitation.