Lymphoma is a type of blood cancer that develops within the lymphatic system, or the complex network of vessels by which lymph drainage occurs from the tissues into the bloodstream. Lymphomas exist in two main types—Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. With Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer tends to spread directly from one specific cluster of lymph nodes (the Reed-Sternberg cells) to another. Whereas, with non-Hodgkin lymphoma cancer is prone to spreading through the lymphatic system in an indirect, or very unpredictable pattern of metastasis.
Various types of lymphoma exist. For instance, there are 5 subtypes of Hodgkin’s lymphoma and more than 90 types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which means treatment will vary depending upon the following factors:
- Type of lymphoma
- Stage of lymphoma
- Rate of cancer progression
- Overall patient health
However, treating a specific lymphoma will aim to destroy as many cancer cells as possible to achieve cancer remission. The most common lymphoma treatments include:
1. Lifestyle changes
Several alternative treatments are often recommended for lymphoma patients in combination with other therapies in order to reduce side effects of cancer treatments as well as ease the stress of cancer diagnosis—such as acupuncture, massage, relaxation and breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, physical therapy, cancer support group therapy, etc.
2. Radiation therapy
Radiation, also known as radiotherapy, directs intense x-ray or proton beams at cancer cells in order to eradicate them.
Chemotherapy aims to destroy cancerous cells by taking oral medication or injecting intravenous drugs directly into a vein.
4. Clinical trials
Clinical trials test the effectiveness of new lymphoma screening methods, interventions, adn medical treatments on a group of volunteer participants in order to improve the detection, treatments, and disease prevention.
5. Bone marrow transplant
Also known as stem cells transplants, bone marrow transplants employ high doses of chemotherapy and radiation to suppress bone marrow before infusing healthy stem cells from the patients or a donor so they can rejuvenate and replace cancerous bone marrow.
6. Targeted drug therapy
Targeted drugs treat lymphoma by pinpointing specific gene abnormalities within cancer cells, and using immunotherapy drugs to boost the immune system to destroy them.