Treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) depends
stage of the disease.
- The type of lymphoma. The kind of treatment
you have will depend on whether you have B-cell or T-cell lymphoma and whether
it is fast-growing or slow-growing.
- The size of the tumor, where the lymphoma is located, and what organs are
- Your general health.
Your doctor will work with you and your medical team (which may include an oncologist, a hematologist, and an oncology nurse) to come up with your treatment plan.
- Watchful waiting (surveillance) is a
period of time after the diagnosis of some types of NHL when you are not receiving treatment but are still being watched closely by your doctor.
- Radiation therapy is often the treatment of choice for localized slow-growing (indolent or low-grade) NHL. For more information, see Other Treatment.
- Chemotherapy kills cancer cells or stops them from dividing. The way chemotherapy is taken depends on the type and stage of cancer.
- Targeted therapy with monoclonal antibodies destroys cancer cells without harming normal cells.
- A stem cell transplant may be used to treat NHL that has come back. Or it may be used right after you have very high-dose chemotherapy.
A common concern of cancer patients are the side effects of treatments like chemotherapy and radiation. Your medical team will let you know ahead of time what side effects you can expect and help you manage them. And there are things you can do at home. To learn more, see Home Treatment.
Sometimes NHL comes back after treatment. This is called recurrence or relapse. Treatments for recurrent NHL include chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination of the two. This treatment may be followed by a stem cell transplant.
You will need regular exams after you have been treated for NHL.
Let your doctor know if you have any problems as soon as
Finding out that you have cancer can change your life. You may feel like your world has turned upside down and you have lost all control. Talking with family, friends, or a counselor can really help. Ask your doctor about support groups. Or call the American Cancer Society (1-800-227-2345) or visit its website at www.cancer.org.
For support in managing the many changes that having cancer can bring, see the topic
Getting Support When You Have Cancer.
What to think about
Your doctor may use
the term "remission" instead of "cure" when talking about the effectiveness of
your treatment. Although many people with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma are
successfully treated, the term remission is used because cancer can return. It
is important to discuss with your doctor the possibility of recurrence.
Even after effective treatment for NHL, you may be at slightly higher
risk for other types of cancer, especially melanoma, lung, brain, kidney, and
bladder cancers. Be watchful for any symptoms of cancer.
Additional information about NHL is provided by the National Cancer Institute at www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/non-hodgkin.
Cancer treatment has two main goals: curing cancer and making your quality of life as good as possible. Palliative care can improve your quality of life by helping you manage your symptoms. It can also help you with other concerns that you may have when you are living with a serious illness.
For some people who have advanced cancer, a time comes when treatment to cure cancer no longer seems like a good choice. This can be because the side effects, time, and costs of treatment are greater than the promise of cure or relief. But this isn't the end of treatment. You and your doctor can decide when you may be ready for hospice care.
It can be hard to decide when to stop treatment aimed at prolonging your life and shift the focus to end-of-life care.
To learn about the different types of supportive care, see: