Lymphoma is a form of cancer that affects the lymphatic/immune system, making it hard for the body to fight infections and diseases. A report published by the American Cancer Society states that medical experts and researchers are still trying to find out the real cause of lymphoma.

There are two main types of lymphoma: non-Hodgkin and Hodgkin. According to figures from the US National Cancer Institute, 20 out of every 100,000 Americans have non-Hodgkin lymphoma. NHL usually occurs in lymph nodes or other body organs that contain lymphatic tissue. Moreover, it can grow in multiple parts of the body because malignant lymphocytes circulate freely around the body.

Still, the disease is most common in the elderly and middle-aged, according to the Lymphoma Research Foundation Icon: External Link. On the other hand, Hodgkin lymphoma (HL), which is quite rare, affects three out of every 100,000 Americans. Affected lymph nodes usually contain Reed-Sternberg cells. Unlike NHL, HL is common in young adults. Take note there are various subtypes of HL.

Treatment Options For Lymphoma

Lymphoma treatment depends on various factors include the type of lymphoma, the patient’s general health, the patient’s age, the affected body part, as well as stage of lymphoma tumors. Your doctor should offer advice on the next course of action after carrying out thorough tests. Some of the treatment options your doctor could recommend include:

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is the treatment of choice for many cancers including lymphoma. Doctors administer chemotherapy intravenously or prescribe oral tablets. The aim is to get the administered drugs into the bloodstream where they kill lymphoma cells. However, chemotherapy has negative side effects such as hair loss, nausea, tiredness, constipation, risk of developing blood clots, and mouth sores. People receiving chemotherapy treatment may also become anemic. Blood transfusion may be necessary to deal with this complication.

Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy involves the use of high-energy rays, directed at specific body parts, to destroy cancer cells without harming neighboring healthy cells. Although it may sound simple, it normally requires careful planning and execution. Specialists in radiotherapy, including oncologists and radiographers, are normally preparing patients by positioning them in comfortable positions. The delivery of high energy rays typically takes a few minutes and is painless. The potential side effects of this procedure include tiredness, hair loss, nausea, and fatigue.

Monoclonal antibody therapy

Monoclonal antibody therapy mimics the body’s immune system to target and destroy lymphocytes. Doctors typically administer this therapy via an intravenous drip. Unlike the other treatments described above, monoclonal antibody therapy is widely used to treat NHL (General Information About Adult Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma – cancer.gov Icon: External Link). This treatment option makes use of certain drugs, including rituximab, ibritumomab tiuxetan, and tositumomab.

Stem cell transplants

If the treatments described above fail, doctors might decide to carry out stem cell transplants, using either the patient’s stem cells or a donor’s stem cells. In the former case, your doctor will remove, freeze, and store your stem cells until you have had chemotherapy to put lymphoma into remission. After this, the doctor will administer the same stem cells via a drip to help your body’s bone marrow start making new blood cells. Since this procedure carries significant health risks, patients spend considerable time in hospital.

Steroid therapy

Doctors usually use steroid therapy together with chemotherapy. Steroids essentially counter the side effects of chemotherapy. In fact, one side effect of steroid therapy is increased appetite, which many medical experts see as a desirable outcome. However, steroids may also boost a patient’s energy levels, leading to restlessness.

Conclusion

Overall, lymphoma is a cancer that affects lymphocytes. It is common in young and middle age adults as well as in seniors. Some of the available treatment options for the disease include chemotherapy, radiotherapy, monoclonal antibody therapy, steroid therapy, and stem cell transplants. The cancer-fighting drugs used in these therapies and treatments can cause a number of side effects including nausea, hair loss, and fatigue.