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.