How To Treat and Manage Lymphoma

Lymphoma can be a debilitating form of blood cancer that can have a significant effect on a quality of life. Having said that, there are two major types of the disease—Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (HL) and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL). While both lymphoma types affect a patient’s life in much the same way, there is a fundamental difference between the two diseases:

  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma spreads directly from one cluster of lymph nodes to another. The majority of HL cases are made up of Reed–Sternberg cells (or lacunar histiocytes), which are distinctive, giant cells.
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma spreads in an indirect and often erratic way. While both forms of lymphoma have close to a hundred different subtypes, the vast majority are Non-Hodgkin lymphoma in nature.

Treatment for lymphoma largely depends on the type and subtype diagnosed. However, there are a few common treatments regardless of HL vs. NHL. For instance:

1. Lifestyle changes
Many lymphoma patients report reduced side effects of treatments (i.e., chemo and radiation) with yoga, massage, relaxation, and breathing exercises.

2. Cancer support groups
Talking with other lymphoma patients have been shown to help the mental health of patients with lymphoma, and their loved ones. These groups provide a lot of emotional support and advice for patients who’ve gotten a cancer diagnosis, and are going through cancer treatment.

3. Radiation therapy
Radiotherapy direct beams of intense radiation at an area of cancer cells to help destroy and prevent them from spreading.

4. Chemotherapy
Destroys cancer cells by using oral, topical, and intravenous medications. Chemo is typically prescribed before or post-surgery to further destroy cancer cells and prevent them from spreading.

5. Bone marrow transplants
Have become increasingly more common over the past decade or so in lymphoma treatment. Also known as stem cells transplants, bone marrow transplants are often used in conjunction with radiation therapy. A bone marrow transplant from a healthy donor will ensure that healthy marrow is re-grown after treatment. This provides the greatest odds of beating the disease and leading a healthy life afterward. It should be noted that NHL does have a chance at coming back, but bone marrow transplants help minimize this risk significantly.