Lymphomas are cancers that develop in the lymphatic system -- the tissues and organs that produce, store, and carry white blood cells. The lymphatic system includes:
Types of lymphoma include:
Signs and Symptoms
Lymphoma is accompanied by the following signs and symptoms:
Non-Hodgkin and Hodgkin lymphomas
Cutaneous T-Cell lymphoma
Who Is Most At Risk?
People with the following conditions or characteristics are at risk of developing lymphoma:
Cutaneous T-Cell lymphoma
What to Expect at Your Doctor's Office
If you are having symptoms of lymphoma, your doctor will carefully check for swelling or lumps in the neck, underarms, and groin. If the lymph nodes don't feel normal, your doctor will perform a biopsy. The doctor will remove a small piece of the lymph node -- or in the case of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, a growth from the skin -- and a pathologist will examine the tissue under a microscope to check for cancer cells.
If you have cancer, your doctor will do more tests to find out if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body (staging). This may involve blood and bone marrow tests, computed tomography (CT) scans, positron emission tomography scans (PET), combination PET/CT scans, and, possibly a laparotomy, during which the doctor cuts into the abdomen and checks the organs for cancer.
Your doctor will develop a treatment plan based on the diagnosis, the stage of the disease, the size of the tumor, and your general health and age.
Your doctor may prescribe the following drug therapies:
For Hodgkin and Non-Hodgkin lymphomas:
For cutaneous T-Cell lymphoma:
Surgical and Other Procedures
Patients sometimes receive bone marrow transplantation and peripheral blood stem cell transplantation. Researchers are testing the effectiveness of radioimmunotherapy, a treatment with a radioactive substance linked to an antibody that will attach to the tumor when injected into the body. They are also investigating immunotherapy, a form of treatment that bolsters the immune system to fight the cancer rather than targeting the cancer directly. A surgeon may also remove the tumor.
Complementary and Alternative Therapies
Lymphoma requires conventional medical management. A comprehensive treatment plan for lymphoma may include a range of complementary and alternative (CAM) therapies. Be sure to ask your team of health care providers about the best ways to incorporate these therapies into your overall treatment plan. Some CAM therapies may interact negatively with conventional medical lymphoma interventions. Always tell your doctors about any supplements you are taking, and only work with qualified CAM physicians.
Improved relaxation and decreased stress are helpful in promoting a better sense of well being. Try activities such as guided imagery, tai chi, yoga, and meditation. Intimacy and support from others helps promote a positive and empowering attitude, as well.
Nutrition and Supplements
Some nutritional guidelines may help reduce symptoms. Many herbs and supplements can interact negatively with conventional cancer medications. New research about such interactions is ongoing. While supplements may be helpful, it's important to work with a knowledgeable provider and inform your doctors about any supplements you're using or considering using.
You may address nutritional deficiencies with the following supplements:
Herbs can be an important part of an integrated cancer plan, however, they should only be prescribed by a knowledgeable provider who is in communication with all of your other doctors.
Although few studies have examined the effectiveness of specific homeopathic therapies, professional homeopaths may consider the following remedies for the treatment of gastritis symptoms (such as nausea and vomiting) based on their knowledge and experience. Before prescribing a remedy, homeopaths take into account your constitutional type, includes your physical, emotional, and psychological makeup. An experienced homeopath assesses all of these factors when determining the most appropriate treatment for you individually. You should only take homeopathic remedies under the direction of experienced homeopathic, and keep all of your doctors informed about any remedies you may be considering.
Homeopathy may help improve symptoms and strengthen overall constitution. It may also help reduce the side effects of chemotherapy.
Contrast hydrotherapy may help enhance immune function and facilitate the transport of nutrients and waste products. End hot showers with 1 to 2 minutes of cold water spray. Since hydrotherapy stimulates lymphatic flow, talk to your doctor first before beginning a hydrotherapy regimen.
Acupuncture may help strengthen immunity and detoxification. It may also reduce the side effects of chemotherapy. For many patients and doctors, acupuncture has become one of the most widely used alternative interventions in cancer treatment. Unlike botanicals and nutrients, acupuncture works without ingesting substances, so possible interactions with cancer treatments is less likely.
Prognosis varies, depending on the type and stage of lymphoma. Survival rates for Stage I and II non-Hodgkin lymphoma and Hodgkin lymphoma are very high. Cure rates as high as 75% to 80% are now possible with appropriate initial therapy.
Potential complications include:
Once you are in remission, it is essential that you be checked for signs of relapse on a regular basis.
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Review Date: 11/20/2016
Reviewed By: Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by the A.D.A.M Editorial team.
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