PTSD Symptoms Persist in Some Long-Term NHL Survivors

Persistence, worsening seen in more than one third of long-term non-Hodgkin's lymphoma survivors

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 12 (HealthDay News) -- More than one third of the long-term survivors of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) experience persistence or worsening of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a study published online Oct. 11 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Sophia K. Smith, Ph.D., from Duke University in Durham, N.C., and colleagues investigated changes in PTSD symptoms in long-term survivors of NHL, and identified clinical, demographic, and psychosocial associations and predictors of PTSD symptomatology. A total of 682 NHL survivors who participated in an earlier survey, and were at least seven years postdiagnosis, were mailed surveys to obtain information about PTSD symptoms, positive and negative perceptions of the cancer experience, and other potential correlates of PTSD. Of these, 566 individuals (52 percent females and 87 percent whites) responded to the survey an average of 12.9 years after NHL diagnosis.

The investigators found that, over five years, 37 percent of the respondents reported persistence or worsening of symptoms, while 51 and 12 percent of respondents reported no PTSD symptoms or resolution of symptoms, respectively. PTSD symptoms at follow-up were higher in survivors reporting a low income, stage 2 or more at diagnosis, aggressive lymphoma, chemotherapy, and greater impact of cancer (both positive and negative) at the initial survey. Income and negative impacts of cancer independently predicted PTSD symptoms in multivariable analysis.

"Providers should be aware of enduring risk; early identification of those at prolonged risk with standardized measures and treatments that target perceptions of the cancer experience might improve long-term outcomes," the authors write.

One of the study authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and cancer care industries.

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