Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Diagnosis & Treatment in the South Puget Sound Area
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is known by several similar names, including Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and simply as lymphoma. This form of cancer affects the lymphatic system as mutated cells begin to develop and potentially metastasize (spread) throughout other areas of the body. While it is common for various types of cancer to spread to the lymph nodes, only those that originate in the lymphatic system can be classified as lymphomas.
Large Areas of Lymphatic Tissue
Lymph nodes exist all throughout the body in various regions to provide support to a person’s immune system. This network of nodes is able to deliver infection-fighting white blood cells known as lymphocytes to areas of the body that may be threatened by harmful bacteria, viruses, or other microorganisms. Lymphocytes can vary by type, with the most common types being B lymphocytes and T lymphocytes. Any type can become compromised by non-Hodgkin lymphoma, though B lymphocytes are more often affected.
There are six specific portions of the lymphatic system that make up the majority of lymphatic tissue within the body. The lymph nodes have already been discussed, and the remaining five portions include the:
- Adenoids and tonsils
- Thymus gland
- Bone marrow
- Digestive tract
Common Symptoms of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
As with many forms of cancer, symptoms associated with lymphomas can first seem quite vague and non-specific. If the symptoms listed below persist for a significant period of time or begin to worsen, it is critical that individuals seek immediate care from a skilled physician:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Swelling of the lymph nodes, usually first noticed in areas of the neck, groin, or armpits
- Chronic fatigue
- Pain in the chest or abdomen
- Persistent coughing or difficulty breathing
- Night sweats
Classifying a Patient’s Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
It can be particularly difficult to classify a patient’s particular type of lymphoma, as there are many factors that contribute to this process, such as:
- The type of lymphocyte that the cancer originated in
- The appearance of the mutated cells when viewed underneath a microscope
- How quickly the lymphomas grow and spread to other areas of the body
- Any proteins that exist on the surface of the cancerous cells
- The chromosomal features of the patient’s lymphoma cells
Various examinations, tests, and tissue biopsies will need to be conducted in order to officially reach a diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and which stage the patient is involved in. The later the staging, the more severe the case. The specific diagnostic tools used will depend on where the cancerous cells originated as well as where they may have metastasized.
After our office has gathered sufficient information about the patient’s unique lymphoma case, recommendations for the most beneficial treatment options will be given. It is important for patients to work closely with their providers during this decision making process to arrive at a solution that is truly best for them.
Treatments Offered by NW Medical Specialties
Not every patient will decide to engage in treatment for their non-Hodgkin lymphoma. This choice is often weighted by the knowledge that treating advanced lymphomas can be extremely taxing in both a physical and emotional sense.
Individuals who do elect to undergo treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma will typically complete one or more of the following cancer treatment therapies or procedures:
- Radiation therapy
- Targeted drug therapy
- Bone marrow transplant
- Surgery to remove the cancerous lymphatic tissue
Again, these options will vary based on the particular patient and their exact case of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. If you wish to review any of these potential treatments with a specialist in the South Puget Sound area, please contact NW Medical Specialties today to request a consultation. We have five locations for your convenience.