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Full recovery after cell transplantation for treating leukemia or lymphoma can take 3-5 years

cent by 5 years.

"An important message to get out to patients, their families and their physicians and nurses is that transplant is not a process that is over when the patient goes home in three months or even in one year, said Syrjala. "There is a physical and emotional process of adjustment that takes three to five years. We want to inform patients and families. It's common when patients have cancer for families to say, okay, we're going to put everything we have into this and then when it's over things will be back to like they were. There is a wish to move on. The patient has that wish too, but the process might take longer than people expect."

Results of this prospective longitudinal study show that recovery after HCT occurs gradually over 1 to 5 years as measured by improvement in physical function, return to work, depression, and treatment-related distress. Given adequate time, 84 percent of survivors returned to full-time work. At some point during treatment or recovery, 22 percent of the patients had symptoms consistent with clinical depression while an additional 31 percent had mild depressive symptoms. Higher levels of depression, lower levels of physical function, and less satisfaction with social support before HCT increased the risk of impaired physical and emotional recovery after the transplantation. Women had increased risk for depression, treatment-related distress, and delayed return to full-time work. Conversely, previous experience with chemotherapy or radiation therapy before beginning HCT seemed to facilitate recovery from the psychological aspects of this intensive treatment.

According to the research team, these results are both encouraging and cautionary. Patients, families, and medical teams depend on accurate recovery data when planning for posttransplant needs. Expectations that contradict actual experience cause stress for survivors and potential conflicts with family, work, and the medical team. To facilitate realistic
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Contact: Susan Edmonds
sedmonds@fhcrc.org
206-667-2896
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
18-May-2004


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