Primary care for you and your family, close to home.
Wellstar Health System provides superior care for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, offering a comprehensive spectrum of top-notch physicians, treatment options and diagnostic tools. In addition Wellstar offers such innovative advances in the fight against non-Hodgkin lymphoma, including:
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system, a key component of the immune system. The lymphatic system is made up of lymph nodes, or glands, which are located in various places throughout the body. Lymph nodes are in your neck, near your armpits and in your abdomen and groin. They are connected by small vessels called lymphatics. The lymphatic system also includes the thymus gland, spleen and bone marrow. Together, the different parts of the lymphatic system help the body fight disease.
There are two types of cancers that originate in the lymphatic system—Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Hodgkin lymphoma is the rarer of the two. While both are cancers of the lymphatic system, they differ in their pattern of spread through the body and in the aggressiveness of growth. Because of the differences, the symptoms and treatment can be different.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma typically begins when types of white blood cells called B cells or T cells multiply rapidly. They continue to grow abnormally, but they do not fight infection, as healthy white blood cells do. Instead, they build up and form a growth, or tumor.
Wellstar supports scientific research that shows certain lifestyle choices can lower a person’s risk of some cancers, but in the vast majority of cases of Hodgkin lymphoma, there is very little a person can do to lower his or her risk.
No routine screening tests, such as mammography for breast cancer or colonoscopy for colorectal cancer, exist for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Even when symptoms exist, diagnosing non-Hodgkin lymphoma can sometimes be difficult because its symptoms mimic those of influenza and other illnesses. If your Wellstar physician has ruled out other illnesses and your fatigue continues and if your lymph nodes appear to be swollen, your Wellstar physician may begin to order other tests to determine if you have non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Those tests may include:
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma can be difficult to diagnose by physical exam alone. Its symptoms—fatigue, fever, night sweats—mimic other illnesses much less serious in nature. If your symptoms have persisted longer than two weeks and if they do not respond to treatment, your Wellstar physician may want to conduct a variety of tests to determine whether you have non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
When non-Hodgkin lymphoma is diagnosed, your Wellstar physician will categorize it by the current stage as well as by the type of cells present (B or T) and by whether those cells are fast or slow-growing. The stage describes the progression of the disease and whether it has spread to other groups of lymph nodes and to distant sites within the body.
Once cancer has been detected, biopsied and “staged,” your team of specialists in hematologic oncology, radiation oncology, radiology and pathology will work together to assess your best course of non-Hodgkin lymphoma treatment. This will include formulating a coordinated plan of personalized treatment consistent with the highest standards of care. Your treatment will be tailored to your specific type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and it may involve a combination of radiation, chemotherapy, the use of drugs called biological agents and bone marrow or stem cell transplants. In cases where the lymphoma is characterized as indolent (or slow growing), you may even postpone treatment and practice what is called watchful waiting. This will be done in connection with your Wellstar physician, who will closely monitor the progression of your illness with regular checkups and blood tests.
Typically, surgery is not performed as the sole treatment in non-Hodgkin lymphoma patients because the standard of care is radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs given by mouth or injection to destroy cancer cells. It can be used to assist in the cure of cancer patients or to prolong life or the quality of life.
Chemotherapy is typically used for non-Hodgkin lymphoma patients in concert with targeted therapy called monoclonal antibodies, usually administered through a vein in a hospital, clinic or doctor’s office.
There are currently several chemotherapy protocols for treating non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and your Wellstar physician will base your treatment decision on your individual cancer type, stage, your general overall health and whether you are pregnant.
Radiation therapy is often used for non-Hodgkin lymphoma patients whose disease is classified as Stage I or II. Sometimes, chemotherapy may be used in conjunction with radiation therapy, or if the cancer recurs after radiation.
Wellstar offers standard radiation through cutting edge techniques to treat non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Your Wellstar radiation oncologist is highly expert in administering the proper dose as well as pinpointing the precise area that needs radiating, thus limiting the amount of healthy tissue affected by the radiation.
Also, in some cases, you may be a candidate for systemic radiation. Instead of radiation being administered outside the body, radioactive isotopes are delivered by targeted therapy, called monoclonal antibodies, directly to the cells. Patients are given an injection containing these agents.
If your cancer recurs after radiation and chemotherapy, your Wellstar physician may recommend a bone marrow or stem cell transplant. In these procedures, your own bone marrow or stem cells are used to help fight the cancer. They are removed from your body, then frozen and stored.
Meanwhile, chemotherapy is used to kill the cancer cells remaining in your body. Then, your bone marrow or stem cells are returned to your body via injection.
You’ll be referred after your recovery from non-Hodgkin lymphoma to Wellstar’s medical oncology team for treatment, surveillance and survivorship programs. These comprehensive programs focus on diet, exercise and nutrition to help you reduce the risk of recurrence.
Cancer care at Wellstar is more than advanced technology, clinical research, and highly specialized physicians and nurses. It includes an array of supportive care services to improve the patient experience before, during and after treatment. All of these services are available within the Wellstar system, including:
Wellstar’s certified palliative care physicians and certified registered nurses are dedicated to providing compassionate, quality care in various settings, including home hospice, inpatient hospice nursing homes, assisted living facilities and nursing homes. Wellstar offers caring and compassionate hospice care for patients and their families in one of Georgia’s oldest hospice programs serving Bartow, Cherokee, Cobb, Douglas and Paulding counties.