Being diagnosed with lymphoma may be a frightening experience. Understanding the disease and its treatment is the first step towards lessening the fear and taking some control of your recovery.
What Is Lymphoma?
Lymphoma is a form of cancer that originates in the white blood cells of the body’s immune system, known as the lymphatic system. Diseased lymphocytes may be found in the spleen, tonsils, and bone marrow or in lymph nodes in the neck, groin, chest or armpits.
Types of Lymphoma
Although there are many subtypes within each category, there are two main types of lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma typically occurs in older members of the population, and Hodgkin lymphoma, distinguished by the specific Reed-Sternberg malignancy, is commonly diagnosed in young adults.
Lymphoma is classified into four stages, which designate the location and progression of the disease. Stage I is early lymphoma, and it indicates disease detected in one lymph node or body region. At its most advanced progression, Stage IV, cancerous cells have moved outside the lymph nodes and invaded a body organ.
Treatment design is based on your type and stage of lymphoma and your state of health. Chemotherapy is a systemic approach that kills cancer cells effectively, but it also damages healthy cells, and bone marrow or stem cell transplants may be required. Radiation, typically administered with other treatments, zeros in on tumors and causes little collateral damage. Targeted biological treatments boost immunity and help destroy cancer cells.
You don’t have to face this disease alone. Your team of medical professionals monitors your treatment and regularly assesses your progress. Social workers provide emotional support and assist with financial issues. Lymphoma survivors offer valuable firsthand tips for coping with fear, anxiety, pain and side effects.
If you’re faced with a diagnosis of lymphoma, an understanding of the disease and how it is treated empowers you with knowledge and helps you to fight this curable cancer. Discuss any questions and concerns you may have regarding your personal diagnosis, symptoms, treatment and prognosis with your team of doctors, nurses and support workers.