The methods of treatment used for lymphoma include:
The combination of drugs and therapies used will depend on the type of lymphoma.
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Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill
Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are the most common treatments for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Because of the risk that a lymphoma has spread beyond the original
Chemotherapy is called a systemic treatment because the drugs travel throughout the body. This means that even those cancer cells that have not yet been found may be killed. Patients may receive chemotherapy alone or in combination with radiation therapy.
For further information about radiation therapy, go to Radiation Therapy.
One form of chemotherapy, called high-dose chemotherapy (HDCT), uses very high doses of toxic drugs to kill all possible tumor cells. Because these high doses also kill most of the bone marrow, patients are then given a bone marrow transplant to restore their ability to make new red and
Bone marrow may be taken from the patient before chemotherapy begins and given back to the patient after treatment is done. Or, bone marrow from another person may be used.
We now understand a great deal about cancer and the body's defense systems.
Many biological therapies are still experimental, but research is being done to develop and improve them. Scientists and doctors hope that they will soon be able to treat most forms of cancer using these therapies, combined with treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
The different approaches to biological therapy include:
In one kind of
Antibodies are proteins that help white blood cells fight off viruses and bacteria. Antibodies bind to foreign invaders and signal the immune cells to attack.
Many cancer cells carry proteins called tumor antigens on their surface. Because cancer cells are usually the only ones to carry these proteins, tumor antigens make good targets. Researchers hope that monoclonal antibodies against these tumor antigens will bind to them and signal the immune system to attack the tumor cells.
Two approaches are being studied for treating cancer with monoclonal antibodies. In one, the antibodies signal the body's own immune cells to attack and kill the tumor cells. In the other, powerful anti-cancer drugs are linked to monoclonal antibodies which then carry the drugs straight to the tumor. This means that the drug is aimed directly at the cancer cells rather than at healthy tissues.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Rituxan, a monoclonal
Another new immunotherapy is the use of tumor vaccines. In much the same way that a polio vaccine activates your immune system to fight off the virus if you are ever infected, tumor vaccines use a person's own tumor cells to activate the immune system to destroy the tumor.