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Leukemia, Lymphoma / Blood Cancers Mini Guide TOC - Treatment Overview

Treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) depends on:

  • The stage of the disease.
  • The type of lymphoma. The kind of treatment you have will depend on whether you have B-cell or T-cell lymphoma and whether it is fast-growing or slow-growing.
  • The size of the tumor, where the lymphoma is located, and what organs are involved.
  • Your general health.

Your doctor will work with you and your medical team (which may include an oncologist, a hematologist, and an oncology nurse) to come up with your treatment plan.

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Understanding Leukemia -- the Basics

Leukemia is an abnormal rise in the number of white blood cells. The white blood cells crowd out other blood cell elements such as red blood cells and platelets. The elevated white blood cells are immature and do not function properly. Leukemia -- the term derives from the Greek words for "white" and "blood" -- is often considered a disease of children, yet it actually affects far more adults. It is more common in men than women and in Caucasians than African-Americans. There will be more than...

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Treatment options

  • Watchful waiting (surveillance) is a period of time after the diagnosis of some types of NHL when you are not receiving treatment but are still being watched closely by your doctor.
  • Radiation therapy is often the treatment of choice for localized slow-growing (indolent or low-grade) NHL. For more information, see Other Treatment.
  • Chemotherapy kills cancer cells or stops them from dividing. The way chemotherapy is taken depends on the type and stage of cancer.
  • Targeted therapy with monoclonal antibodies destroys cancer cells without harming normal cells.
  • A stem cell transplant may be used to treat NHL that has come back. Or it may be used right after you have very high-dose chemotherapy.

Side effects

A common concern of cancer patients are the side effects of treatments like chemotherapy and radiation. Your medical team will let you know ahead of time what side effects you can expect and help you manage them. And there are things you can do at home. To learn more, see Home Treatment.

Recurrent NHL

Sometimes NHL comes back after treatment. This is called recurrence or relapse. Treatments for recurrent NHL include chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination of the two. This treatment may be followed by a stem cell transplant.

Follow-up care

You will need regular exams after you have been treated for NHL.

Let your doctor know if you have any problems as soon as they appear.

Support

Finding out that you have cancer can change your life. You may feel like your world has turned upside down and you have lost all control. Talking with family, friends, or a counselor can really help. Ask your doctor about support groups. Or call the American Cancer Society (1-800-227-2345) or visit its website at www.cancer.org.

For support in managing the many changes that having cancer can bring, see the topic Getting Support When You Have Cancer.

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