Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
Surgery is often used to obtain a biopsy sample when NHL is being diagnosed or classified. But surgery is used only rarely in the treatment of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
What to think about
Radiation therapy is often the treatment of choice for early-stage or nonaggressive (indolent) non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL). Radiation therapy may be used alone or combined with other treatment options, such as chemotherapy, for later or more advanced NHL.
Stem cell transplant may be used to treat NHL that is in remission or has relapsed. Stem cells may be obtained from blood, through a peripheral blood stem cell transplant (PBSCT). Or stem cells can be obtained from bone, in a bone marrow transplant (BMT). PBSCT is the most common method for treating NHL.
There are many other treatments for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, because there are many kinds of lymphomas. Treatments sometimes include the use of interferon or antibiotic medicines. Your doctor will suggest the treatment that works best for your kind of lymphoma. Or your doctor may suggest that you join a clinical trial. Some treatments being used in clinical trials include lymphoma vaccines and stem cell transplants with high-dose chemotherapy.
If your non-Hodgkin's lymphoma gets worse, you may want to think about palliative care. Palliative care is a kind of care for people who have illnesses that do not go away and often get worse over time. It is different from care to cure your illness, called curative treatment. Palliative care focuses on improving your quality of life—not just in your body but also in your mind and spirit. Some people combine palliative care with curative care.
Palliative care may help you manage symptoms or side effects from treatment. It could also help you cope with your feelings about living with a long-term illness, make future plans around your medical care, or help your family better understand your illness and how to support you.
If you are interested in palliative care, talk to your doctor. He or she may be able to manage your care or refer you to a doctor who specializes in this type of care.
For more information, see the topic Palliative Care.
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is often a progressive condition. If you have been diagnosed with NHL, you may wish to discuss with your family and your doctor the health care and other legal issues that arise near the end of life.
A time may come when your goals or the goals of your loved ones may change from treating or curing an illness to maintaining comfort and dignity. You may find it helpful and comforting to state your health care choices in writing (with an advance directive or living will) while you are still able to make and communicate these decisions. Think about your treatment options and which kind of treatment will be best for you. You may wish to choose a health care agent to make and carry out decisions about your care if you become unable to speak for yourself. For more information, see the topic Care at the End of Life.
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