General Treatment for NHL

The treatment of lymphoma depends on many factors, the most important of which are the type of disease, its stage, its site (location), whether the lymphoma is slow- or fast-growing, and the age and general health of the individual. Other factors that may enter into the treatment plan include symptoms, whether surgery was used in staging the disease, and pregnancy.

Fortunately, many advances have been made in the treatment of both Hodgkin's disease (HD) and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) in recent years. Over 75 percent of newly diagnosed HD patients are cured by the latest methods of chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and the survival statistics for NHL patients are improving.

Treatment plans for children vary according to the age, physical development, and sexual maturity of the individual child.

General NHL Treatment Options

In general, there are five options available for the treatment of adult lymphoma:

  • Chemotherapy to kill lymphoma cells using strong anticancer drugs
  • Radiation therapy to kill lymphoma cells by exposure to high-energy radiation
  • Stem cell transplantation (SCT) to enable treatment with high doses of chemotherapy and radiation therapy
  • Biological therapies that use naturally occurring substances of the immune system to stop lymphoma progression
  • Surgery to remove confined, lymphomas outside the lymph nodes (extranodal) in organs such as the thyroid or stomach

Oncologists (cancer specialists) administer these treatments in a variety of combinations. Each method has its advantages and drawbacks. It usually is worthwhile to get a second opinion about treatment before entering into a specific program. In some instances, a second opinion may be required by the patient's insurance company. For example, stem cell transplantation (SCT) is costly and requires an extensive hospital stay. Some insurance companies still consider this to be an "experimental" procedure and will not pay for SCT-related expenses.

NHL Clinical Trials

Many advances are being made in the treatment of NHL. However, continued advances in the field depend upon the participation of patients in clinical trials. Through the use of clinical trials improved treatment outcomes and the development of more risk appropriate strategies can be secured. It is possible participation in a clinical trial may help you and the next unfortunate individual who will be diagnosed in the future. Please consider any clinical trial, which your physician may discuss with you. If clinical trial participation is not discussed, please ask your physician if there any trials for which you may be eligible for participation.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 14 Aug 1999

Last Modified: 28 Sep 2015