Lymphoma Cancer Treatment

Introduction – Lymphoma

Lymphoma is a type of blood cancer in which the cancer cells or the malignant cells originate in the lymph nodes. It manifests as enlargement of the lymph nodes among other features. There are basically two types of lymphomas – Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Hodgkin’s lymphoma usually affects blood and lymphnodes alone. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma has a more aggressive course of disease and may affect other organs and the central nervous system.

Procedure and considerations – Lymphoma

Lymphomas are usually treated by a team of specialist doctors. Team of doctors include haematologist (blood and associated disease specialist), medical oncologist (cancer specialist) and radiation oncologist. Mode of treatment is usually depends on the type of lymphoma, its stage, age of the patient and various signs and symptoms. Different treatment options are discussed with the patients before the line of management is decided. Staging of the cancer determines the extent of spread and severity of the disease. The more advanced the stage, the lesser is the chance of recovery or cure.

Stem cell transplantation is usually done at specialized centres. At first patients own stem cells are taken out and frozen at specific conditions.
Chemotherapy is an established mode of treatment. Drugs are used to kill the lymphoma cells. Drugs travel by blood to reach the lymphoma cells. Usually combination of drugs is administered. Chemotherapy is undertaken in cycles. Each cycle is followed by a rest period. Since chemotherapy drugs kill normal healthy cells as well as cancer cells they are associated with severe or mild side effects. Common side effects are hair fall, ulcers in mouth and lips, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, loss of fertility, diarrhoea, risk of infections, anaemia and bleeding tendencies etc.

Radiation therapy may also be undertaken depending on the nature of lymphoma. High energy rays are used to kill lymphoma cells. Radiation decreases the severity of lymphoma. The advantage of radiation is that affected lymph node can be targeted and normal tissues may be spared. In this therapy also, side effects are common and of varying severity. The side effects commonly seen are diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, difficulty in swallowing, sore throat etc.

In cases of recurrence, stem cell transplantation may be considered as an option. Stem cell transplantation is usually done at specialized centres. At first patients own stem cells are taken out and frozen at specific conditions. Then the patient receives high doses of chemotherapy, radiation or both to destroy the lymphoma cells. Thereafter the stored stem cells are transfused. New blood cells are developed subsequently.

Maintaining adequate nutrition is an important part of supportive care. Loss of appetite is a frequently encountered problem along with nausea and vomiting. So help of a dietician may be sought to maintain adequate nutrition. Proper follow up is an essential component of treatment. Regular health check up is required for an early detection of recurrence or to assess the rate of cure.

 

- Link of interest: Twitter Lymphoma – Cancer Treatment.

 

This article is not medical advice nor a substitute to professional health advice. Always consult a doctor.

 

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