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Follicular (Low Grade) Lymphoma Treatment

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Updated December 03, 2006

Follicular Low Grade Lymphoma is one of the commonest types of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. It is a slow growing lymphoma that is often not immediately life-threatening. Because it grows slowly and inconspicuously, most people do not recognize any problems while the disease is in its early stages. By the time the disease is diagnosed most patients (80-85%) have widespread disease that often involves many lymph node areas, the bone marrow, spleen or other organs.

Slow growing but difficult to cure completely:

Even in the advanced stages, people with Follicular Lymphoma often survive for long with standard treatment, due to its slow growing nature. However, the disease is not curable. Most people respond well to treatment, and the disease can be stabilized for a few years before relapsing and requiring treatment again. Many patients require to be treated many times, with intervals of a stable disease after each treatment that may last months to many years.

Treatment for early stage disease:

Few people are lucky to be diagnosed while the disease is still in its early stages. These individuals can be usually cured. Radiation treatment is used alone for most individuals. It has been seen that moderate doses of radiation given to affected areas of the body in those with localized disease can control the disease permanently. There is no additional benefit of adding chemotherapy or biological agents.

Treatment options for advanced stage disease: :

80-85% of people with follicular lymphoma are diagnosed with widespread disease. There are many treatment options for those with advanced follicular low-grade lymphoma. These are:

  • No immediate treatment – just wait and watch
  • Chemotherapy in the form of pills
  • Infusion chemotherapy
  • Chemotherapy and biological therapy
  • Bone marrow or stem cell transplants
  • Radioimmunotherapy

How is the treatment decided? :

Most of these treatment options result in similar outcomes, and the choice of treatment depends on the condition of the patient, the symptoms od disease, and the preferences of the treating hospital. Even for the same stage of the disease, individuals may be treated differently.

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