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Lymphoma: Putting It All Together

Thursday, April 19, 2012 - 13:41

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

Here is a summary of the important facts and information related to Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

  • Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system, which carries lymph fluid and white blood cells throughout the body. White blood cells fight infection.
  • There are two main types of lymphoma: Hodgkin's disease, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
  • A non-Hodgkin's lymphoma diagnosis used to be very bad news. Now medical treatments can cure many cases. New, even better treatments are also being developed.
  • The first sign of lymphoma is often a painless lump or swollen gland in the neck, abdomen, underarm, or groin area.
  • Many other things can cause swollen glands. Swollen glands due to infection are usually fairly soft and somewhat tender or painful, while cancerous nodes are usually firm, rubbery and painless.
  • Your doctor and oncologist will do a number of tests to define the lymphoma's grade and stage. Then they can design the best possible treatment approach.
  • Grade refers to how quickly the tumor is growing. High-grade, aggressive lymphomas are fast-growing and can be deadly in a short time, but can often be cured with proper treatment. Low-grade, indolent lymphomas are slow-growing, but tend to recur after treatment.
  • Stage refers to how far the cancer has spread throughout the body. The lower the stage, the less the lymphoma has spread and the better the outlook.
  • The two forms of treatment that are used most often for lymphoma are chemotherapy (drugs) and radiation therapy. Promising new biological therapies are also being developed.
  • Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can be difficult both physically and emotionally. Try to remember that your therapy will not last forever. There are many support groups and sources of information that can help you through the difficulty of your diagnosis and treatment.
  • There are things you can do to make your therapy go as smoothly as possible. Talking to your doctor, trying to follow a healthy lifestyle, and sticking to recommendations and follow-up care will help your medical team help you.

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