NHL Surgery

Surgery plays little role in the treatment of Hodgkin's disease, and it rarely is used as a therapeutic option for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. For some lymphomas that arise in organs outside of the lymph nodes (extranodal) such as the thyroid or stomach, surgical resection (cutting away) of the tumor may be considered.

However, surgery is associated with complications such as adhesions (abnormal "joining" of organs and tissues by fiber-like bands), nerve injury, and cosmetic effects, and it does not prevent tumor regrowth. Surgery may be used to insert a venous access device, a plastic tube that is surgically implanted into a large vein in the chest or upper arm, to reduce the need for repeated needle sticks during drug injections or removal of blood samples.

Surgical staging with laparotomy (incision through the abdominal wall) and splenectomy (removal of the spleen) are the most accurate means of determining HD spread in patients who show disease above the diaphragm, the large abdominal muscle that controls breathing, and who are candidates for radiation therapy alone. The primary danger of splenectomy, especially in people with compromised immune systems, is sepsis - infection in the blood or tissues). Microorganisms commonly involved in such sepsis include pneumococci, meningococci, E. coli, Haemophilus influenzae, and staphylococci.

For more information on therapies for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, please speak with your physician. Open communication leads to improved care. Ask questions and become more informed about your condition. Participation in your medical care is essential.

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

Published: 14 Aug 1999

Last Modified: 28 Sep 2015