Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma - Expertise Is Power
Non-Hodgkins lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system. The body was created with an amazing defense mechanism to make sure that any invaders, such as bacteria, are stopped and potential infections halted immediately. This system consists in part of cells called lymphocytes that march around the body prepared to defend if an attack occurs. These lymphocytes migrate from lymph node to lymph node throughout the body. Sometimes the lymphocytes become malignant, growing and developing into a lymphoma; there are probably 20-25 different lymphomas, and each one is quite different. Any lymphoma that is not considered Hodgkins disease is referred to as non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
Lymphoma may become evident in a couple of ways. It may be a large, swollen lymph node--perhaps in the neck or groin area. Alternatively, the patient may have anemia--fatigue, paleness, or a loss of energy or appetite. When a doctor can't find a solution to such symptoms using routine methods, such as antibiotics, a CT scan may turn up swollen lymph nodes internally and a biopsy might confirm lymphoma.
Treatment. Each lymphoma is quite different. Some grow quite fast and are aggressive, and in the space of a few weeks a patient can go from being healthy to having enlarged, swollen lymph nodes and be quite sick. Others are low-grade and grow very slowly, developing over several years with symptoms that are subtle and insidious. It's really a paradox: some lymphomas grow so slowly that we don't even treat them but rather monitor a patient, and others are so aggressive that they require strong chemotherapy up to and including a stem cell transplant.
If you have lymphoma, you want to see someone who is both an expert in lymphoma and can communicate well with you and your family. We help our patients choose a physician based upon their interest in and knowledge of a particular tumor, and a compatible personality match.
Providing outstanding patient care is essential to any cancer patient. Understanding a patient's disease and relating to him or her as an individual--much like we'd like our own family members to be treated--is really the key to providing the highest level of oncologic care.