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Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma
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Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

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From MayoClinic.com


Several factors affect the choice of treatment, including the type and stage of your lymphoma, your age and your overall condition. The main treatment options include:

  • Chemotherapy. Doctors use a combination of drugs — given orally or by injection — against fast-growing cancer cells. This treatment is used for intermediate- and high-grade lymphomas and advanced stages of the low-grade lymphomas. A single drug may be used if you have a low-grade type of the disease.

  • Radiation. High doses of radiation kill cancerous cells and shrink tumors. This treatment is for early stages of low-grade lymphomas. Sometimes, it's used along with chemotherapy on intermediate-grade tumors or to treat specific sites, such as the brain.

  • Stem-cell transplantation. Lymphomas tend to be sensitive to chemotherapy. However, if lymphoma recurs then higher doses of chemotherapy may be necessary to treat the disease. The amount of chemotherapy that can be given is limited because of the damage chemotherapy does to your bone marrow. In order to get around this serious side effect, healthy stem cells — those capable of producing new cells — are taken from your blood or bone marrow and frozen. After you undergo very high doses of chemotherapy to kill the lymphoma, the healthy stem cells are thawed and injected back into your body. This treatment is used primarily to treat intermediate- or high-grade lymphomas that relapse after initial, successful treatment.

  • Observation. If your lymphoma appears to be slow-growing, a wait and see approach may be an option. Sometimes, your doctor will observe your cancer, with no treatment for a year or more for a slowly growing lymphoma that has few symptoms before you and your doctor reach a decision on the next step.

  • Biologic therapy. The newest form of treatment for B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is biologic therapy. Two drugs in this class approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are rituximab (Rituxan) and ibritumomab (Zevalin). Both rituximab and ibritumomab are types of antibodies that help the immune system target and destroy cancer cells. Rituximab is frequently used in combination with chemotherapy. It is also sometimes given in tandem with ibritumomab. Ibritumomab can produce serious side effects, including reduced blood-cell counts, and the FDA has approved its use only after other treatments have failed. However, most people tolerate this therapy well.

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