Lymphoma Treatment

Treatment options, as well as the outlook for recovery, depend on determining both the exact type and the stage of lymphoma. Once identified, the physician performs a biopsy on the suspected lesion, and by examining the cells under a microscope can determine the type of lymphoma. Proper staging of the location and extent of the tumor is an important step before deciding on the most appropriate treatment. Physicians utilize PET/CT scans to provide staging information and to help detect disease that may have spread beyond the lymph nodes to other areas such as bone marrow, liver or spleen. In addition to providing essential staging information, the initial PET/CT scan provides a baseline for subsequent evaluation of whether the therapy was effective.

A number of other diagnostic tests used to gather information for staging, may be performed in addition to the PET/CT scan and a sentinel node biopsy. These may include:

  • Physical examination
  • Blood tests
  • Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy
  • Lumbar puncture (spinal tap)
  • Imaging tests

Hodgkin's lymphoma is usually treated with chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy, depending on the stage and cell-type of the disease. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma patients are usually treated with chemotherapy; radiation, alone or in combination with chemotherapy, is used less often. Highly specific monoclonal antibodies directed at lymphoma cells are used for initial treatment and recurrence of some types of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, as are antibodies linked to a radioactive atom. High-dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplant and low dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplant are options if non-Hodgkin's lymphoma persists or recurs after standard treatment.

Proper staging of the location and extent of the tumor is the first step in appropriate treatment.

Source: American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2011. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2011