Get answers to your Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma questions.
Lymphoma - non-Hodgkin's; NHL; B-cell lymphomas
Treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is highly specific for each patient and is determined by the tumor classification. It includes the following factors:
Grading refers to how fast the tumor grows and spreads. In NHL, indolent lymphomas are slow growing and aggressive lymphomas are fast growing. Aggressive lymphomas are usually more curable than indolent lymphomas. Indolent lymphomas may respond to treatment but tend to recur. (Recurrence is also called relapse.)
Staging refers to where the tumor is contained and where it has spread. The stages of non-Hodgkinâ ' s lymphoma are:
Stage I. In Stage I (early disease), lymphoma is found in only one lymph node area or in only one area or organ outside the lymph nodes.
Stage II. In Stage II (locally advanced disease), lymphoma is found in two or more lymph nodes on the same side of the diaphragm or the lymphoma extends from a single lymph node or single group of lymph nodes into a nearby organ.
Stage III. In Stage III (advanced disease), lymphoma is found in lymph node areas on above and below the diaphragm. Lymphoma may have also spread into areas or organs adjacent to lymph nodes, such as the spleen.
Stage IV. In Stage IV (widespread disease), the lymphoma has spread (metastasized) via the bloodstream to organs outside the lymph system, such as the bone marrow, brain, skin, or liver.
The main treatments for non-Hodgkinâ ' s lymphoma are:
In early stages of lymphoma, doctors may recommend watchful waiting where treatment is delayed until symptoms appear or worsen. Treatment for lymphomas generally uses chemotherapy (particularly intensive regimens using several drugs) or a combination of chemotherapy and radiation. Monoclonal antibody biologic drugs, (a treatment approach also called immunotherapy), are now being used more frequently in combination with chemotherapy drugs. Transplantation is mainly used to treat patients who relapse or who are in remission. Surgery is not commonly used as a treatment option.
Patients may also wish to consider enrolling in a clinical trial that tests new and experimental drugs or treatments.
In assessing the success of a clinical trial, doctors often refer to the tumor response. A complete response, for example, means that there is no longer any evidence at all of the disease by examination, blood tests, or x-ray studies. It does not necessarily mean, however, that the disease is cured. It may still recur later on.
In judging the success of a treatment for NHL, the most important criteria are overall survival and the duration of time until the disease progresses or the patient dies.
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