Facts About Lymphomas
Lymphoma is a type of cancer that originates in our body’s lymphatic system, which is a series of tiny vessels through our body that help fight infection and disease. With proper treatment, the symptoms of lymphoma can be reduced, and in some cases, patients can be cured.
Hodgkin’s lymphoma is named after Dr. Thomas Hodgkin, who first described the condition back in 1832. This cancer originates in the central lymph nodes of our body, which are located in the main points where the blood vessels are returning from the hands and legs, such as the neck, armpit, groin, and abdomen. This form of lymphoma is very treatable, with about 80% of patients that are diagnosed going on to live for 10 or more healthy years.
NON-HODGKIN’S LYMPHOMA (NHL)
Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL) is not a specific type of lymphoma, but a categorization that includes about 30 types of lymphoma. Due to having various types of lymphoma in this category, it is much more common compared to Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. All variations of NHL are treatable, and often curable with treatment.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Both Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma originate in the lymph nodes, and the most common symptom is an enlarged lymph node, manifesting as a bump under the skin. Other signs and symptoms include of both types of lymphoma include:
• Night sweats
• Itchy skin
• Trouble sleeping
• Loss of appetite
• Cough & chest pain
• Trouble breathing
There are more symptoms that can occur. The kinds of symptoms that patients experience can be different, depending on the type, stage, and location of the cancer.
STAGING OF LYMPHOMA
The extent and severity of the lymphoma is identified using four stages.
• Stage I – A Single lymph node or non-lymph node region is affected.
• Stage II: Two or more lymph nodes or non-lymph node regions are affected on the same side of the diaphragm (the muscle under the lungs).
• Stage III: Lymph node or non-lymph node regions above and below the diaphragm are affected.
• Stage IV: The cancer has spread outside the lymph nodes to organs such as the liver, bones or lungs. Stage IV can also refer to a tumor in another organ and/or tumors in distant lymph nodes.
A biopsy will be conducted by your physician in order to identify the stage of the lymphoma. After the state of the cancer has been identified, your doctor will work with you to create a personalized treatment plan.
TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR LYMPHOMA
Lymphoma is typically treated using chemotherapy, radiation therapy, biological therapy, or any combination of the three. The ideal treatment for the patient depends on the patient’s type of lymphoma, as wells the stage and their own personal health. It is recommended that patients seeking treatment for lymphoma consult with a radiation oncologist and medical oncologist, since they specialize in the treatment methods for lymphoma.
RADIATION THERAPY FOR LYMPHOMA
Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment procedure provided by a radiation oncologist. The treatment consists of exposing the cancerous area of the body to targeted beams of radiation, in a process called external beam radiation therapy. The beams of radiation are generated by an external machine, and the intensity and frequency of treatment will vary depending on the patient’s needs.
Radiation attacks cancer cells, causing damage and eliminating the cancer cell’s ability to multiply. Treatment will also affect a small amount of healthy tissue around the cancer, but healthy cells will repair themselves during a short recovery period, while the cancer cells die off.
BIOLOGIC THERAPY LYMPHOMA TREATMENT
Commonly referred to as immunotherapy, this type of lymphoma treatment does not focus on killing the cancer cells directly, but instead, strengthening the body’s immune system to improve its ability to fight off and destroy the cancer cells. The degree and frequency of treatment will be determined by your medical oncologist.
LYMPHOMA – HODGKIN’S AND NON-HODGKIN’S RESOURCES
Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
Lymphoma Information Network
Lymphoma Research Foundation
Also see Helpful Links
*Content provided by the American Society for Radiation Oncology, www.rtanswers.org, and the American Cancer Society.