Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma: Understanding Your Treatment Options
What's the key to successful treatment of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma? Understanding your diagnosis and treatment options, says Dr. Gwen Nichols, chief medical officer for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Dr. Nichols explains how patients and caregivers can best navigate the decisions at hand.
Dr. Nichols: Patients can do a lot of things to increase their chance of success with their therapy of lymphoma. The most important is to empower yourself with education about your lymphoma and about the treatments that are available.
There are lots of new treatments, you should ask about those. Is it appropriate for me right now? Should I hold off on treatment or start treatment now? And what's the intent of the treatment?
If you have a lymphoma that is unlikely to be cured but that you can live decades with, you want to be gentle in the treatment so you don't get another health problem from the treatment. So, that you can live into old age with your lymphoma.
Other lymphomas can be very aggressive and can cause serious problems if not treated early. In these types of lymphomas, it's very important to have intensive therapy early after diagnosis.
There is usually a system of a number of different options that can be given to patients. And this is why it's so important to know the diagnosis and to talk with your physician about what the options are, what the potential side effects are, and what's the best treatment for you.
The treatments can range from, as I mentioned, watching and seeing the pace of the disease and seeing if you can keep it suppressed without active treatment to bone marrow transplantation and very aggressive treatment, and everything in between, radiation, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapies. So, there's really a whole host of options for patients. And sometimes, it's dependent on your health, and you know, what side effects may come from one treatment or another, where the lymphoma is, is it about to cause a problem with other parts of your health, and maybe your age and your general status.
And that's really why you have to have some education about your lymphoma and the treatments and then have a really good conversation with your healthcare team.