Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma Treatment Expectations

3 years ago
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In this video, Dr. David Hanson explains the expectations for treatment that a patient with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma should have. Dr. Hanson also offers an important piece of advice for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma patients trying to compare his/her case with another patient's. David S. Hanson, MD: If you have been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, you should have the opportunity to visit with your treating physician about the exact nature and stage of your cancer, so that you know what to expect from the treatment and also have a clear understanding of the goals and limitations of treatment. That is because non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is really a large group of illnesses with certain diseases that are slow growing and will respond favorably to chemotherapy but may not ever be able to be completely cured, or a very rapidly growing cancer that can lead to death within weeks to months of the diagnosis. So it is very clear that you have to understand your disease and what to expect with regard to its treatment. There are oftentimes patients who seek to compare themselves to other patients by making visits to the internet or talking with other patients in the waiting room, and to be honest with you, you really have to know the details of your lymphoma problem. Now most patients who are diagnosed with lymphoma are treated with chemotherapy, which can be given by vein or by mouth. There are other patients with lymphoma whose disease is growing so slowly and causing so few symptoms, that it really can be carefully watched and not treated immediately. In contradistinction, patients with rapidly growing lymphomas are oftentimes treated with aggressive, high dose chemotherapy on a very frequent intense schedule with the goal to eliminate that lymphoma and cure that patient's cancer. Finally, certain lymphomas can benefit from the addition treatment with radiation and that radiation is generally given by the radiation oncologist on a schedule, Monday through Friday, for a prescribed number of weeks of treatment. The combination of chemotherapy and radiation can oftentimes be curative for patients with early stage lymphoma. For patients with advanced lymphoma, generally chemotherapy, plus or minus radiation, can be given. Finally, I think it is very important that you understand that you really cannot compare the disease that you have with general lymphoma information that you might receive, either in the mail or over the internet. So please understand by talking with your Doctor what to expect from your personal illness. David S. Hanson, MD practices oncology and internal medicine in Baton Rouge and Zachary, Louisiana. Dr. Hanson graduated with an MD, 27 years ago.