To someone newly diagnosed with lymphoma, treatment options may be difficult to understand. There are nearly 30 types of lymphoma, and often there are multiple treatment options for a single disease. Here is a brief guide to understanding lymphoma treatment.
Before treatment is decided
After the diagnosis of lymphoma and finding out the exact type of Hodgkin's or non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a number of tests are carried out to find out the extent of disease (the stage of lymphoma) and other factors that determine the prognosis. When all these investigations are complete, the oncologist counsels the patient regarding the best treatment options available.
Understanding the types of lymphoma treatment
There are four main types of treatment for lymphomas:
- Chemotherapy – Drugs that are administered as infusions in your veins or as pills. Common chemotherapy schedules include ABVD, R-CHOP and CHOP.
- Radiotherapy – High energy rays that are directed at the tumor. Radiotherapy can be delivered over small areas (involved field radiation ) or large areas (extended field radiation).
- Antibody therapy (also called biological therapy) – Using drugs like Rituximab that target special molecules on the surface of cancer cells.
- Bone marrow or stem cell transplant – Using high doses of chemotherapy or radiation to kill all cancer cells while saving the bone marrow with transplantation of marrow or stem cells.
Treatment of Hodgkin’s lymphoma
Hodgkin’s lymphoma is usually treated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Treatment options are based on the stage of lymphoma and some prognostic factors. Nearly all patients receive chemotherapy, and radiation may be used in early stage disease usually after chemotherapy or occasionally as the only treatment.
Treatment of non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas (NHL)
There are nearly 25 different types of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Some of them behave very differently from others. The treatment of all NHL is not the same but depends on the type and behavior of the particular type. Chemotherapy is usually the main treatment. Radiation or monoclonal antibody therapy may be added to chemotherapy in some situations for added benefit.
- Treatment Options for Aggressive Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma – includes treatment for a group of common NHL including diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.
- Follicular (Low Grade) Lymphoma Treatment – treatment of slow growing lymphomas.
- Mantle Cell Lymphoma Treatment – a lymphoma that looks slow-growing but behaves aggressively.
- Gastric MALT Lymphoma Treatment – treatment of a type of lymphoma that affects the stomach.
- Primary CNS Lymphoma Treatment – a lymphoma that affects mainly the brain.
- Cutaneous T-cell Lymphoma Treatment – treatment of skin lymphoma.
- Burkitt’s Lymphoma Treatment – a fast-growing lymphoma that affects children.