Once your hairy cell leukemia is in remission, you'll need to visit your doctor for regular follow-up care. He or she monitors your health and looks for signs that you may need more treatment. Some treatments can cause long-term effects or late effects.
Your doctor will let you know how often you need physical exams and blood tests to check your blood cell counts. Your oncologist will screen you for the development of a second cancer and cancer recurrence. Successful treatment for relapse is possible. Also, identifying relapses early can reduce infections.
If you continue to show no signs of hairy cell leukemia and no long-term or late effects, your doctor may suggest longer periods between visits.
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) produces Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology for most cancers, which many doctors follow. Their guidelines are among the most comprehensive and most frequently updated clinical practice guidelines available in any area of medicine. You can download guidelines at the NCCN website for helpful information about hairy cell leukemia to discuss with your doctor.
Some treatment centers have comprehensive follow-up care clinics for cancer survivors. To find a long-term survival clinic near you, visit The National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship.
Long-Term and Late Effects of Treatment
Some side effects of chemotherapy, such as fatigue and infertility, can linger for months or years after treatment. Other medical conditions like heart disease and other cancers may not appear until years after treatment ends.
Not everyone suffers from long-term effects and late effects of treatment, but for some patients the effects can range from mild to severe. Your risk for developing long-term or late effects can be influenced by:
- your treatment type and duration
- your age at the time of treatment
- your gender
- your overall health
People with hairy cell leukemia have an increased risk of developing a second cancer. This makes it extremely important for you to get regular follow-up care so you can be monitored and any second cancer can be diagnosed early.
Long-term and late effects can impact your physical, mental and cognitive (brain function) health in several ways, including:
- heart or thyroid problems
- a secondary cancer
- a low energy level
- hearing loss
- posttraumatic stress disorder
- an inability to concentrate or focus
Researchers are working to improve their understanding of long-term and late effects and create guidelines for follow-up care. If you'd like to contribute to this important research, you can take part in a clinical trial that collects data on long-term and late effects.