Role of Routine Imaging in Lymphoma

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  • 1 Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri
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Patients with lymphoma commonly undergo routine imaging studies after treatment completion, yet the appropriate interval, duration, and modality of follow-up, and the overall efficacy of various approaches is unclear. Existing guidelines are vague and not evidence-based, and consequently, practice patterns are varied. Most surveillance approaches in lymphoma have focused on early detection of recurrence, with the hope of prolonged survival and potential cure. Concerns regarding the prognostic value of frequent scanning, cost-effectiveness, and long-term risks associated with prolonged radiation exposure have led many to question the role of routine imaging in this setting. Given the multiple lymphoma subtypes and the clinical heterogeneity of these entities, a single approach to follow-up may not be reasonable. Much of the available literature focuses on Hodgkin lymphoma, and may not be generalizable. Retrospective series show that most relapses are detected by signs and symptoms regardless of the imaging schedule. In summary, clinicians are still left with “expert opinion” to guide them. This article examines the available data outlining the role of surveillance imaging in lymphoma.

Disclosure: Nina D. Wagner-Johnston, MD, has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Disclosure: Nancy L. Barlett, MD, has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Correspondence: Nancy L. Bartlett, MD, Washington University School of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, 660 South Euclid Avenue, Box 8056, St. Louis, MO 63110. E-mail:

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