Treatment for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphomas (NHL) differs from patient to patient. The regimen used depends on the type of NHL, the stage, and whether the disease is aggressive or indolent.
The following is a list of typical treatments:
- Chemotherapy is the use of cytotoxic (cell damaging) medicines to target and kill tumors. The drugs work by interrupting the DNA of fast-growing cells, preventing them from growing or reproducing. Chemotherapy can lead to a variety of side effects.
- Radiation therapy uses high doses of X-rays, gamma rays, or other types of ionizing (damaging) radiation to kill cancer cells. It may be applied to the whole body or to a specific zone.
- Immunotherapy uses the body’s own immune system to attack and remove cancer cells. Doctors inject a patient with a special type of antibody, or cell marker, that binds to antigens on a cell’s surface.
- Radioimmunotherapy (radiolabeled monoclonal antibodies)
- Radioimmunotherapy combines monoclonal antibody therapy with radioactive isotopes. Though it was developed in the 1980's, radioimmunotherapy is just now beginning to gain widespread acceptance. In the United States, it has been approved by the FDA for treatment of certain types of refractory lymphoma / relapsed lymphoma. The Zevalin® regimen has been approved by the FDA as a first-line treatment of certain follicular lymphoma patients.
- Bone marrow transplantation
- For patients with very advanced disease, extremely high does of chemotherapy may be needed. This type of chemotherapy wipes out the body’s entire immune system, including the bone marrow that produces blood cells. So, patients need a bone marrow transplant in order to recover.
- Watch and Wait
- This treatment option is used for patients with indolent, low-grade cancers in the early stages. In some cases, early stage cancers don’t respond well to treatment, so it’s more efficient to wait until the cancer has progressed to a treatable stage before prescribing chemotherapy and radiation.
- Clinical Trials
- New lymphoma treatment options are always being researched. If you wish to take part in a clinical trial, talk to your doctor.
These individual therapies may be combined for optimum treatment. Chemotherapy is often given in combination with radiation for advanced cancers, and some B-cell and T-cell cancers are treated with chemo and immunotherapy.
Patients who are looking for more advanced treatment or who have lymphoma that does not respond to standard treatment may want to consider a clinical study. Click here to find clinical trials in your area.
Related NHL Treatment Pages
For more information on Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, please see the following pages:
Photo by Dina Wakulchik