Lymphomas are cancers that develop in the lymphatic system -- the tissues and organs that produce, store, and carry white blood cells. The lymphatic system includes:
Types of lymphoma include:
Signs and Symptoms
Lymphoma is accompanied by the following signs and symptoms:
Non-Hodgkin's and Hodgkin's lymphomas
Cutaneous T-Cell lymphoma
Who Is Most At Risk?
People with the following conditions or characteristics are at risk of developing lymphoma:
Cutaneous T-Cell lymphoma
What to Expect at Your Doctor's Office
If you are having symptoms of lymphoma, your doctor will carefully check for swelling or lumps in the neck, underarms, and groin. If the lymph nodes don't feel normal, your doctor will perform a biopsy. The doctor will remove a small piece of the lymph node -- or in the case of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, a growth from the skin -- and a pathologist will examine the tissue under a microscope to check for cancer cells.
If you have cancer, your doctor will do more tests to find out if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body (staging). This may involve blood and bone marrow tests, computed tomography (CT) scans, positron emission tomography scans (PET), combination PET/CT scans, and, possibly a laparotomy, during which the doctor cuts into the abdomen and checks the organs for cancer.
Your doctor will develop a treatment plan based on the diagnosis, the stage of the disease, the size of the tumor, and your general health and age.
Your doctor may prescribe the following drug therapies:
For Hodgkin's and Non-Hodgkin's lymphomas
For cutaneous T-Cell lymphoma:
Surgical and Other Procedures
Patients sometimes receive bone marrow transplantation and peripheral blood stem cell transplantation. Researchers are testing the effectiveness of radioimmunotherapy, a treatment with a radioactive substance linked to an antibody that will attach to the tumor when injected into the body. A surgeon may also remove the tumor.
Complementary and Alternative Therapies
Lymphoma requires conventional medical management. A comprehensive treatment plan for lymphoma may include a range of complementary and alternative (CAM) therapies. Be sure to ask your team of health care providers about the best ways to incorporate these therapies into your overall treatment plan. Some CAM therapies may interact negatively with conventional medical lymphoma interventions. Always tell your doctors about any supplements you are taking, and only work with qualified CAM physicians.
Improved relaxation and decreased stress are helpful in promoting a better sense of well being. Try activities such as guided imagery, tai chi, yoga, and meditation. Intimacy and support from others helps promote a positive and empowering attitude, as well.
Nutrition and Supplements
Some nutritional guidelines may help reduce symptoms. Many herbs and supplements can interact negatively with conventional cancer medications. New research about such interactions is ongoing. While supplements may be helpful, it's important to work with a knowledgeable provider and inform your doctors about any supplements you're using or considering using.
You may address nutritional deficiencies with the following supplements:
Herbs can be an important part of an integrated cancer plan. But they should only be prescribed by a knowledgeable health care provider who is in communication with all of your other doctors.
Although few studies have examined the effectiveness of specific homeopathic therapies, professional homeopaths may consider the following remedies for the treatment of gastritis symptoms (such as nausea and vomiting) based on their knowledge and experience. Before prescribing a remedy, homeopaths take into account your constitutional type -- your physical, emotional, and psychological makeup. An experienced homeopath assesses all of these factors when determining the most appropriate treatment for you individually. You should only take homeopathic remedies under teh direction of experienced homeopathic, and keep all of your doctors informed about any remedies you may be considering.
Homeopathy may help improve symptoms and strengthen overall constitution. It may also help reduce the side effects of chemotherapy.
Contrast hydrotherapy may help enhance immune function and facilitate the transport of nutrients and waste products. End hot showers with 1 to 2 minutes of cold water spray. Since hydrotherapy stimulates lymphatic flow, talk to your doctor first before beginning a hydrotherapy regimen.
Acupuncture may help strengthen immunity and detoxification. It may also reduce the side effects of chemotherapy. For many patients and doctors, acupuncture has become one of the most widely used alternative interventions in cancer treatment. Unlike botanicals and nutrients, acupuncture works without ingesting substances. So possible interactions with cancer treatments is less likely.
Prognosis varies, depending on the type and stage of lymphoma. Survival rates for Stage I and II non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and Hodgkin's lymphoma are very high. Cure rates as high as 75 to 80% are now possible with appropriate initial therapy.
Potential complications include:
Once you are in remission, it is essential that you be checked for signs of relapse on a regular basis.
Basu S, Li G, Bural G, Alavi A. Fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) and PET/computed tomography imaging characteristics of thyroid lymphoma and their potential utility. Acta Radiol. 2009;50(2):201-204.
Bellizzi S, Cocco P, Zucca M, D'Andrea I, Sesler S, Monne M, et al. Household contact with pets and birds and risk of lymphoma. Cancer Causes Control. 2011;22(2):159-165.
Chiu BC, Kwon S, Evens AM, Surawicz T, Smith SM, Weisenburger DD. Dietary intake of fruit and vegetables and risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Cancer Causes Control. 2011;22(8):1183-1195.
Drake MT, Maurer MJ, Link BK, Habermann TM, Ansell SM, Micallef IN, et al. Vitamin D insufficiency and prognosis in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. J Clin Oncol. 2010;28(27):4191-4198.
Ferri: Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2014. 1st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby, Elsevier. 2013.
Goldman: Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, Elsevier. 2011. chap 196.
Guerard E, Bishop M. Overview of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Disease-a-Month. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby, Inc. 2012; 58(4).
Hollender A, Bjoro T, Otto Karlsen K, et al. Vitamin D deficiency in patients operated on for gastric lymphoma. Scand J Gastroenterol. 2006;41(6):673-681.
Huebner J, Follmann M. Complementary medicine in guidelines of the German Guideline Program in Oncology: comparison of the evidence base between complementary and conventional therapy. J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2013; 139(9):1481-1488.
Jiang J, Slivova V, Sliva D. Ganoderma lucidum inhibits proliferation of human breast cancer cells by down-regulation of estrogen receptor and NF-kappaB signaling. Int J Oncol. 2006;29(3):695-703.
Kelemen LE, Cerhan JR, Lim U, et al. Vegetables, fruit, and antioxidant-related nutrients and risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma: a National Cancer Institute-Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results population-based case-control study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006;83(6):1401-1410.
Kelly JL, Friedberg JW, Calvi LM, van Wijngaarden E, Fisher SG. A case-control study of ultraviolet radiation exposure, vitamin D, and lymphoma risk in adults. Cancer Causes Control. 2010;21(8):1265-1275.
Kormosh N, Laktionov K, Antoshechkina M. Effect of a combination of extract from several plants on cell-mediated and humoral immunity of patients with advanced ovarian cancer. Phytother Res. 2006;20(5):424-425.
McCarty MF, Block KI. Toward a core nutraceutical program for cancer management. Integr Cancer Ther. 2006;5(2):150-171.
MacLean CH, Newberry SJ, Mojica WA, et al. Effects of omega-3 fatty acids on cancer risk: a systematic review. JAMA. 2006;295(4):403-415.
Miller MF, Bellizzi KM, Sufian M, et al. Dietary supplement use in individuals living with cancer and other chronic conditions: a population-based study. J Am Diet Assoc. 2008;108(3):483-494.
Polesel J, Talamini R, Montella M, et al. Linoleic acid, vitamin D and other nutrient intakes in the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma: an Italian case-control study. Ann Oncol. 2006;17(4):713-718.
Tomita M, Koike H, Kawagashira Y, et al. Clinicopathological features of neuropathy associated with lymphoma. Brain. 2013; 136 (8);2563-2578.
Wan XS, Ware JH, Zhou Z, Donahe JJ, et al. Protection against radiation-induced oxidative stress in cultured human epithelial cells by treatment with antioxidant agents. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2006;64(5):1475-1481.
Velicer CM, Ulrich CM. Vitamin and mineral supplement use among US adults after cancer diagnosis: a systematic review. J Clin Oncol. 2008 1;26(4):665-673.
Review Date: 5/26/2014
Reviewed By: Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by the A.D.A.M Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.