Treatments for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
While standard protocols have been established for the treatment of virtually all cancers, physicians will often modify them for their individual patients. These modifications are based on many factors including the patient’s age, general health, desired results, and the specific characteristics of his or her cancer. Since the treatments described in this report represent the standard therapeutic approaches, your physician may not strictly adhere to them.
The goal of treatment is to help the patient live normally for as long as possible. Treatments are designed to kill cancer cells and avoid serious complications related to either the cancer or its treatment. A team of specialists usually works together to treat patients with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The treatment and management of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma may involve radiation therapy, chemotherapy, medications to help with side effects, and other treatments, such as bone marrow transplant. Therapies may also be used in combination. Chemotherapy is the main treatment. Radiation is rarely used alone. Surgery is very rarely used to treat non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It may be considered if the lymphoma is limited to an organ, such as the thyroid or stomach.
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma typically recurs after the initial treatment. If this happens, the doctor will recommend additional therapies. Maintaining the best possible quality of life becomes the goal. When standard therapies do not provide the desired remission, you may want to discuss with your doctor the possibility of participating in a clinical trial.
Your doctor will recommend a treatment plan for your specific needs. In general, treatment options depend on the stage and classification of the cancer, your symptoms, your age, and whether or not you have other medical conditions.
The doctor may recommend delaying treatment until the disease progresses to the point where symptoms occur. Early treatment does not necessarily improve the odds of survival in patients without symptoms. In some cases, the disease may go into remission without treatment. The doctor will continue to closely monitor you, even if you are not actively treated.
Select a topic below for a thorough discussion of each non-Hodgkin's lymphoma treatment option:
Surgery is very rarely used to treat non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It may be considered if the lymphoma is limited to an organ, such as the thyroid or stomach.
Existing treatment protocols have been established and continue to be modified through clinical trials. These research studies are essential to determine whether or not new treatments are both safe and effective. Since highly effective treatments for many cancers remain unknown, numerous clinical trials are always underway around the world. You may wish to ask your doctor if you should consider participating in a clinical trial. You can find out about clinical trials at the government website ClinicalTrials.gov .
Abeloff, M. Clinical Oncology , 2nd ed., Orlando, FL: Churchill Livingstone, Inc.; 2000: 486-490 and 2658-2701.
American Cancer Society
Bast, R., et al. Cancer Medicine e5 ., Hamilton, Ontario: B.C. Decker Inc.; 2000
National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health
Rakel, R. Conn's Current Therapy 2002, 54th ed., St. Louis, MO: W. B. Saunders Company; 2002: 434-439.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
Last reviewed February 2003 by
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