Undoubtedly, patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) face major challenges whilst undergoing treatment for cancer. Patients face common difficulties due to NHL treatment. In other words, these difficulties include coping with the treatment of cancer, emotional and mental aspects of cancer treatment, and the financial burden of cancer treatment.
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) is among the most common cancers in the world significantly. However, the treatment options for patients diagnosed with NHL may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, stem cell transplantation, or a combination. In other words, NHL patients face significant challenges in receiving cancer treatment. Such problems can decrease the ability of patients in order to fight cancer and cancer treatments effectively1. Some of the difficulties patients with NHL face are mentioned, such as:
Coping with non Hodgkin’s lymphoma treatment
Each NHL treatment option has a number of common physical side effects. As a result, people with NHL have often described the burden of NHL as a cumulative effect on emotional well-being and health. The standard treatment for NHL is chemotherapy with doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide, prednisone, and vincristine. therefore, patients being treated with chemotherapy for NHL may experience a variety of side effects such as fatigue, hair loss, and loss of appetite. The side effects of chemotherapy can cause a number of psychological and physical problems, such as pain from newly diagnosed cancer, a decline in the patient’s physical and role functions, and increased depression1.
Many participants who had difficulty adhering to cancer treatment reported increased pain and treatment fatigue over time, including taking part in daily treatment, maintaining treatment adherence, and side effects of treatment. The side effects of cancer treatment are the most common cause of suffering and a significant contributor to non-compliance with cancer treatment.
All cancer survivors live with the fear that cancer may recur or spread (metastasis). Some may also develop secondary cancer. Regular monitoring, screening and reporting of symptoms to the doctor can help detect new or metastatic cancer at an early stage. Chemotherapeutic drugs and radiation therapy may increase the risk for long-term dental problems, hypothyroidism, infertility, organ damage, neuropathy, osteoporosis and diabetes. Cancer treatment may lead to comorbidities associated with endocrine changes such as decreased sex drive, memory loss, anemia, decreased muscle mass, depression, weight gain, loss of body hair2.
Coping with Mental/Emotional side effects of NHL
People diagnosed with NHL can have social and emotional consequences after being diagnosed with cancer. This can include overcoming various emotions, such as anxiety, depression, anger, or managing stress levels. Sometimes it is difficult for patients to express their feelings towards a loved one. Some people have found that talking to an oncology counsellor, social worker, or member of the clergy can help them develop more effective coping with cancer.
The most common emotional problems that cancer patients may experience include fear of recurrence of cancer, depression and grief due to cancer and its treatment, social stigma due to deformities, amputations, or significant changes in body function.
- Coping with the financial burden of HIV/AIDS cancer
“Financial toxicity” has become a well-known term in the discussion of cancer drugs and treatment. Basic medical insurance plans do not cover most NHL treatments in the USA, and therefore, patients have to suffer extremely high OOP payments. The rising medication prices, health insurance costs, and other disease management expenses of NHL in recent decades have been a rising problem for NHL patients and their family members3.
- 1.Chircop D, Scerri J. Coping with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma: a qualitative study of patient perceptions and supportive care needs whilst undergoing chemotherapy. Support Care Cancer. 2017;25(8):2429-2435. doi:10.1007/s00520-017-3649-0
- 2.Zizinia S. Life After Cancer. Social & Emotional Impacts of Cancer. MD Anderson Cancer Center. Published 2022. Accessed March 2022. https://www.mdanderson.org/patients-family/life-after-cancer/social-emotional-impacts.html
- 3.Xu R, Wong E, Su Y, Zhang H, Zhang W, Dong D. Quantifying the Effect of Financial Burden on Health-Related Quality of Life among Patients with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphomas. Cancers (Basel). 2020;12(11). doi:10.3390/cancers12113325