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Anaplastic Large-Cell Lymphoma

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Getting a Diagnosis continued...

Other tests may be needed, such as:

  • Blood tests
  • Bone marrow biopsy. Doctors use a special needle to remove a small amount of the soft material inside your bones and check it for cancer cells.
  • Chest X-ray, which uses radiation in low doses to make images of organs in your chest.
  • CT.  A powerful X-ray that makes detailed pictures of the inside of your body.
  • MRI, which uses powerful magnets and radio waves to make pictures of organs and structures.
  • PET scan, in which radioactive materials called tracers look for cancer.

These tests look to see where and how much the cancer has spread. This is called staging. It helps you and your doctor decide the right treatment. 

  • Stage I. Cancer is found in lymph nodes in only one part of the body, like the neck or groin.
  • Stage II. Cancer is found in two or more groups of lymph nodes. All of the lymph nodes are either above or below the diaphragm, a sheet of muscle between your chest and stomach.
  • Stage III. Cancer is found in lymph nodes both above and below the diaphragm.
  • Stage IV. ALCL has spread to other organs, such as the liver, bones, or lungs.

 

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

  • What stage is the cancer?
  • Where exactly have you found cancer?
  • Is it ALK-positive?
  • Have you treated someone with ALCL before?
  • What treatment do you recommend?
  • What are the side effects?
  • How and when will we know if it works?
  • What if it doesn't work?
  • Could I be in a clinical trial?
  • How do I connect with other families facing ALCL?

Treatment

No matter what form of ALCL you have, there are treatments to help. And researchers are hopeful to have new and better options in the future.

Your treatment choices will depend on the type of ALCL you have and where it is in the body.

Chemotherapy is the main treatment for systemic ALCL, when the cancer is in your lymph nodes and other parts of the body.

A kind of chemotherapy called CHOP is used for both ALK-positive and ALK-negative ALCL. The therapy gets its name for the first letters of the drugs it uses: Cytoxan, hydroxydaunorubicin, Oncovin, and prednisolone.

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