Limited utility of routine surveillance imaging for classical Hodgkin lymphoma patients in first complete remission


  • Presented in part at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology; Chicago, Illinois; May 31 to June 4, 2013.

  • We thank the Donald J. Schuenke family for sponsoring Dr. Pingali's fellowship and the University of Nebraska Foundation along with the Nebraska Lymphoma Study Group for support of the lymphoma database at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.



The objective of this study was to compare the outcomes of patients with classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL) who achieved complete remission with frontline therapy and then underwent either clinical surveillance or routine surveillance imaging.


In total, 241 patients who were newly diagnosed with cHL between January 2000 and December 2010 at 3 participating tertiary care centers and achieved complete remission after first-line therapy were retrospectively analyzed. Of these, there were 174 patients in the routine surveillance imaging group and 67 patients in the clinical surveillance group, based on the intended mode of surveillance. In the routine surveillance imaging group, the intended plan of surveillance included computed tomography and/or positron emission tomography scans; whereas, in the clinical surveillance group, the intended plan of surveillance was clinical examination and laboratory studies, and scans were obtained only to evaluate concerning signs or symptoms. Baseline patient characteristics, prognostic features, treatment records, and outcomes were collected. The primary objective was to compare overall survival for patients in both groups. For secondary objectives, we compared the success of second-line therapy and estimated the costs of imaging for each group.


After 5 years of follow-up, the overall survival rate was 97% (95% confidence interval, 92%-99%) in the routine surveillance imaging group and 96% (95% confidence interval, 87%-99%) in the clinical surveillance group (P = .41). There were few relapses in each group, and all patients who relapsed in both groups achieved complete remission with second-line therapy. The charges associated with routine surveillance imaging were significantly higher than those for the clinical surveillance strategy, with no apparent clinical benefit.


Clinical surveillance was not inferior to routine surveillance imaging in patients with cHL who achieved complete remission with frontline therapy. Routine surveillance imaging was associated with significantly increased estimated imaging charges. Cancer 2014;120:2122–2129. © 2014 American Cancer Society.