This type of treatment approach is most often used in people who are diagnosed with indolent (slow-growing) NHL and have no symptoms or other risk factors that require immediate treatment.
These people are closely monitored using a Watchful Waiting approach. They have regular visits with their doctor, including laboratory tests and tumour imaging (such as CT scans), but they do not receive treatment unless the disease progresses or symptoms appear.
Watchful Waiting may initially cause distress to some people as it may seem a risky or passive approach to a serious disease. However, studies have demonstrated that the results are no different between those people with indolent NHL who receive treatment immediately and those who wait until treatment is required. The benefit of Watchful Waiting is that it delays the often significant side effects of cancer therapies.
The Watchful Waiting approach does not mean nothing is done - the process is still an active one. People are seen regularly by their doctors and are very closely monitored for signs of disease progression. People in the Watchful Waiting category should be observant about the presence of disease symptoms, most notably the presence of B symptoms (e.g. fever, night sweats and unexplained weight loss) which may indicate that active treatment should begin.
Most people initially assigned to Watchful Waiting go on to need active treatment for their NHL. However, some people with indolent lymphomas never require treatment. If treatment is required, it typically begins about 18 months after the start of the Watchful Waiting approach.
From the DVD - "Your Journey of Lymphoma Treatments"
Related video: Chapter - Treating Your Lymphoma