Non-Hodgkin lymphoma treatment
depends on the type of cancer you have, its stage, your health and your age. If only one lymph node is affected
by the tumor, you can definitely be cured by radiotherapy. In advanced non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, survival chance
decreased considerably. In general, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma treatment includes radiotherapy, chemotherapy,
biotherapy, and other therapeutic methods such as stem cell transplantation.
Radiotherapy (Radiation therapy)
Radiotherapy consists of
using high doses of X-rays to kill cancer cells in order to eliminate or shrink the tumor. If the cancer is too
advanced to be completely destroyed, radiation therapy can reduce symptoms and prolong your life. In the case of
a non aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma, radiotherapy combined with chemotherapy can lead to a complete cure in
about 50% of cases.
Chemotherapy is the use of
anticancer drugs to kill cancer cells and prevent metastases. Chemotherapy is often used to treat advanced
non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Sometimes, the cancer does not response to the chemotherapy; if so, your oncologist will
intensify the chemotherapy drugs to increase your survival chances. In general, a combination of chemotherapy
and radiation therapy is used to treat voluminous lymphomas or to reduce pain or
bleeding caused by the tumor.
High dose of chemotherapy
always leads to damage in the bone marrow. To repair this damage, your oncologist can perform or recommend a
cell transplantation. The stem cell
transplantation is performed to replace damaged blood cells by healthy stem cells, instead of
waiting for your body to produce them. Usually, healthy stem cells are taken from you or a compatible donor
before the treatment and then frozen to be injected in your body after the chemotherapy. In patients under 55
years, the bone marrow can give very satisfactory results.
Also called immunotherapy,
biotherapy is to use substances to stimulate the natural defense (immune system) of your body so it can attack
and destroy the cancer cells. One of the
biotherapy drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of B cell non-Hodgkin's
lymphoma is Rituximab (Rituxan); it often is associated with radioimmunotherapy. The most common side effects of
Radioimmunotherapy is a
therapeutic method consists of injecting in your body a radioactive antibody that has the property to bind
selectively to tumor cells. This therapy is performed to irradiate small tumors scattered throughout your body.
Two radioimmunotherapy drugs currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the treatment of
non-Hodgkin's lymphoma are ibritumomab (Zevalin) and tositumomab (Bexxar).
side effects of those drugs include: