Understanding Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: Symptoms and Treatment

Understanding Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: Symptoms and Treatment


Viney Kirpal

4 months ago at 2:42 PM

Being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma can be overwhelming. Here, OneVillage contributor and survivor Vinny Kirpal, will catch you up on all of the basics you need to know.

Lymphoma is the most common blood cancers. It is a cancer of the lymphatic system, which develops in lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) and obstructs the body’s immune system from fighting infection. People of any age can develop lymphoma, but it is most commonly found in those between 1 and 4 years and in those over 65.

Cancer, which is present in the lymph system, can metastasize, or multiply and spread to different tissues and organs in the body such as the liver, bone, marrow or lungs. Lymphoma is highly treatable and your doctor can help you find the right treatment.

What are the 2 types of lymphoma?

There are two types of lymphoma: Hodgkin and Non-Hodgkin. Non-Hodgkin and Hodgkin lymphoma involve a different type of lymphocyte cells. Every type of lymphoma grows at a different rate and responds uniquely to treatment.

In non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, white blood cells called lymphocytes grow abnormally and can form growths (tumors) throughout the body — in the lymphatic vessels, tonsils, adenoids, spleen, thymus and bone marrow. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma begins when your body produces too many abnormal lymphocytes.

Symptoms of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma may include:

  • Swollen lymph nodes in your neck, armpits or groin, which are often painless
  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Chest pain, coughing or trouble breathing
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Unexplained weight loss.

Additional symptoms common to Hodgkin's lymphoma could also occur in Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma:

  • Ongoing fever without infection
  • Night sweats, fever, and chills
  • Weight loss and reduced appetite
  • Unusual itching
  • Persistent fatigue or a lack of energy
  • Pain in lymph nodes after drinking alcohol
  • Persistent coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain or swelling in the abdomen, and
  • Pain, weakness, paralysis, or altered sensation where an enlarged lymph node depresses the spinal nerves or spinal cord.

Treatment of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Several Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma treatments are available. Which treatment or combination of treatments is best for you will depend on the type of cells involved and whether your lymphoma is aggressive. Your doctor will also consider your overall health and discuss your preferences before finalizing the treatment.

If your lymphoma is the slow growing (indolent) type and doesn’t result in signs and symptoms, you might not need treatment right away. Instead, your doctor may suggest regular checkups to monitor your condition to see if your cancer is advancing.

If your non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is aggressive or causes signs and symptoms, your doctor may recommend treatment options such as:

  1. Chemotherapy is a common treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, comprising a drug treatment given through an injection or intravenously to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs can be used in tandem with other drugs and treatments. Chemotherapy in very high doses can prepare your body for a bone marrow transplant or stem cell transplant.
  2. Radiation therapy directs high-powered energy beams, such as X-rays and protons, to specific points on your body to kill cancer cells. If your lymphoma is slow-growing and in a few spots, radiation therapy may be the only treatment you need. Radiation is also used after chemotherapy to kill surviving lymphoma cells by targeting diseased lymph nodes and the neighboring nodes.
  3. Targeted drug therapy focuses on specific abnormalities present within cancer cells. By blocking these abnormalities, targeted drug treatments can kill cancer. For non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, targeted drugs can be used alone, but are more often combined with chemotherapy.
  4. Engineering immune cells to fight lymphoma is a specialized treatment that engineers your body’s germ-fighting T-cells to fight cancer and sends them back into your body. It might also be an alternative treatment for certain types of B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that have failed to respond to other treatments.
  5. Bone marrow transplant, or stem cell transplant, uses high doses of chemotherapy and radiation to suppress your bone marrow and immune system. The healthy bone marrow stem cells are drawn from your body or from a donor’s and then injected into your blood, from where they travel to your bones and rebuild the bone marrow. For people with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a bone marrow transplant might be an important possibility.
  6. Immunotherapy uses your immune system to fight cancer. Your body’s disease-fighting immune system may not attack your cancer because the cancer cells produce proteins that help them hide from the immune system cells. Immunotherapy works by interfering with that process. Immunotherapy drugs may be an option for certain subtypes of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Homoeopathic Treatment for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Homoeopathic treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma belongs to the category of alternative medicine, which can safely complement allopathic medicines. Homeopathy is a theory of medicine that believes that the body can cure itself and they use natural products like plants and minerals to stimulate this healing. These treatments vary according to the type of cancer, the stage, and the patient’s general health. Excruciating pain, a common complaint in cancer, can be eased with homeopathic medicines. There are no side effects as there are when using allopathic drugs, so the combination can improve the overall health and well-being of the patient. Further, it can help counter the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. Homeopathy can relieve patients of anxiety, fear, irritability, stress, depression, and mood swings. Besides, homeopathic treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma has shown the potential to slow the pace at which the cancer spreads.

Recent developments in the therapies used on patients of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and an openness toward engaging with alternative medicines such as Homeopathy, have shown excellent results.

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