Lymphoma Remission

The hope in treating any subtype of lymphoma is that it results in lymphoma remission and eventually a cure. That is the hope. However, the goal of treatment is often a bit more modest, since not all lymphomas are considered curable.

Lymphoma Remission: Partial and Complete

Doctors discuss lymphoma remission according to the patient's response to treatment. This response cannot be adequately measured for several weeks after the patient's last treatment. Lymphoma remission is listed as either partial remission or complete remission. Depending on the subtype of lymphoma and whether the disease is considered indolent or aggressive, either one of these outcomes may be regarded as the best possible scenario.

For instance, aggressive lymphomas can often be brought into complete remission by combination chemotherapy or chemotherapy and radiation (if necessary). In this case, a patient's PET/CT scan would come up 'clean' (no visible evidence of cancer appears on the scan), and each subsequent scan for several years would also come up clean. During this time the patient would be considered to be in lymphoma remission. The longer they remain in complete lymphoma remission, the better their chances that they have achieved a cure. Generally speaking, a patient will be considered 'cured' of their lymphoma if after five years they are still cancer-free.

Meanwhile, complete lymphoma remission is not generally a viable consideration when discussing indolent or slow-growing lymphomas because current treatments are unable to completely clear a patient of indolent lymphoma. In these cases, partial lymphoma remission is often the hope and the goal. This too would be measured according to PET/CT scans that begin several weeks after therapy has ended. Provided their disease has not progressed from one scan to the next, these patients are regarded as having a stable disease and remain in partial lymphoma remission. Depending on the cancer and the individual, partial lymphoma remission can last for several months, several years, or the rest of their lives

Sources

Cheson BD et al. Report of an International Workshop to Standardize Response Criteria for Non-Hodgkin's Lymphomas. Journal of Clinical Oncology, V17, No 4, 1999.

Cheson BD et al. Revised Response Criteria for Malignant Lymphoma. Journal of Clinical Oncology, V25, No 5, 2007.

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