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Lymphoma Treatment

Dr. Henry Fung is the Chair of Fox Chase’s Department of Bone Marrow Transplant and Cellular Therapies and specializes in the treatment of patients with lymphoma and other blood cancers.Dr. Henry Fung is the Chair of Fox Chase’s Department of Bone Marrow Transplant and Cellular Therapies and specializes in the treatment of patients with lymphoma and other blood cancers.

When treating patients with lymphoma, the best outcomes result from a multidisciplinary approach to your care. At Fox Chase Cancer Center, our team of medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, radiologists, and hematopathologists work together seamlessly to assess your cancer and help you understand your options. We value our role in helping you and your loved ones make informed decisions about your treatment.

After your diagnosis is determined, your medical team will work closely with you to develop a customized treatment plan. Our coordinated approach lets us offer our patients thorough, supportive, and personalized care as well as access to innovative therapies and state-of-the-art technologies. Treatment is based on multiple factors:

  • The type of Hodgkin or non-Hodgkin lymphoma you are diagnosed with
  • Your lymphoma’s stage and whether it is fast- or slow-growing
  • The molecular, genetic, and clinical features of your lymphoma
  • Your age, health, and personal goals

We strive to treat your condition in the least invasive way possible and give you the best chance of a successful outcome.

Hodgkin Lymphoma Treatment

Hodgkin lymphoma is considered highly treatable and can often be cured. Your care team will consider the type and stage of your cancer when developing your personalized treatment plan.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy, which involves the injection or ingestion of drugs to kill cancer cells, is the most common treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma. Often, several drugs are given together, and this is known as combination therapy. Chemotherapy is administered in cycles of treatment followed by a rest period to allow the body time to recover.

Patients with early-stage Hodgkin lymphoma may be offered a shorter course of less toxic chemotherapy combined with a smaller field of radiation therapy. Patients with advanced Hodgkin lymphoma will typically receive a combination of chemotherapy agents, which may be followed by radiation therapy.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy, which uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing, is sometimes used in addition to chemotherapy to treat Hodgkin lymphoma.

Radiation may also be used if the cancer relapses and to alleviate symptoms.

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is an innovative treatment option that improves the body’s ability to attack cancer cells. It boosts the patient’s own disease-fighting immune system or uses antibodies created in the laboratory. There are a couple types of immunotherapy agents that may be used for the treatment of Hodgkin lymphoma:

Monoclonal Antibodies

These are man-made versions of the proteins made by the immune system that help fight infections. These antibodies are designed to recognize a specific target, such as a protein on the surface of cancer cells. They attach to the substances and kill the cancer cells or keep them from multiplying.

Checkpoint inhibitors

these use the patient’s own immune cells to identify and attack cancer cells. Normally, the body’s immune system uses T-cells to help fight disease while keeping immune T-cells from destroying normal healthy cells. Cancer cells can take advantage of this by disguising themselves as normal cells. To combat this, checkpoint inhibitors disrupt this disguise, releasing the brakes on the immune system and allowing the T-cells to attack cancerous cells.

Bone Marrow Transplant

Through our highly ranked Bone Marrow Transplant Program, our transplant specialists perform bone marrow transplantation to improve long-term outcomes for patients with blood cancers and other blood-related disorders.

Bone marrow transplants, also called stem cell transplants, involve replacing the patient’s stem cells with new ones after they receive a high-dose chemotherapy regimen. Bone marrow transplantation is sometimes used for Hodgkin lymphoma if the first treatment regimen did not work or the disease returns after a previous therapy.

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Treatment

There are many different subtypes of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), and each has different treatment options.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is the main treatment for most people with NHL. Often, several drugs are used as a combination therapy. Depending on the type and stage of the patient’s lymphoma, chemotherapy may be used alone or combined with other treatments, such as immunotherapy or radiation therapy.

For aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma, patients are divided into low-risk and high-risk groups. Low-risk patients generally receive a standard combination of chemotherapy, with or without immunotherapy or radiation. High-risk patients may receive a series of high-dose chemotherapy treatments with a bone marrow transplant.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy, which uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing, is sometimes used in addition to chemotherapy to treat NHL (although it is sometimes used alone).

It may also be used to alleviate symptoms that patients could experience from their disease.

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is a novel treatment that stimulates the body’s ability to find and fight cancer. It boosts the patient’s own disease-fighting immune system or uses antibodies created in the laboratory. Some immunotherapy regimens used for treating NHL include:

Chimeric Antigen Teceptor (CAR) T-cell Therapy

This uses a patient’s own immune cells to fight cancer. To administer CAR T-cell therapy, clinicians take T-cells from a patient’s blood and genetically modify them so they recognize and bind to cancer cells. They are then multiplied and infused back into the patient to find and destroy cancer cells.

Monoclonal Antibodies

These are man-made versions of the proteins made by the immune system that help fight infections. These antibodies are designed to recognize a specific target, such as a protein on the surface of cancer cells. They attach to the substances and kill the cancer cells or keep them from multiplying.

Checkpoint Inhibitors

These use the patient’s own immune cells to identify and attack cancer cells. Normally, the body’s immune system uses T-cells to help fight disease while keeping immune T-cells from destroying normal healthy cells. Cancer cells can take advantage of this by disguising themselves as normal cells. To combat this, checkpoint inhibitors disrupt this disguise, releasing the brakes on the immune system and allowing the T-cells to attack cancerous cells.

Immunomodulators

Immunomodulators are drugs that modify different parts of the immune system. With some lymphomas, they are used to boost the immune system, stop cancer cells from increasing in number, and stop the growth of new blood vessels.

Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapies, such as kinase inhibitors or small molecule inhibitors, are drugs that impede the growth process of cancer cells and are less damaging to normal cells than chemotherapy.

Bone Marrow Transplant

Through our highly ranked Bone Marrow Transplant Program, our transplant specialists perform bone marrow transplantation to improve long-term outcomes for patients with NHL and other blood cancers.

Bone marrow transplants, also called stem cell transplants, involve replacing the patient’s stem cells with new ones after they receive a high dose chemotherapy regimen. Bone marrow transplantation is sometimes used for NHL if the first treatment regimen did not work or the disease returns after a previous therapy.

Active Surveillance

Active surveillance may be recommended for slow growing (indolent) lymphomas if the patient is not experiencing symptoms. Your medical team will conduct regular physical exams, blood tests and imaging studies to monitor your lymphoma and determine if and when treatment becomes necessary.

Clinical Trials for Lymphoma

Clinical trials give Fox Chase patients access to promising treatments and experimental therapies. We are committed to finding new drugs and treatment approaches to improve survival, decrease toxicity, and maintain patient quality of life. In addition to immunotherapy and chemotherapy clinical trials, we offer trials using highly specific monoclonal antibodies, small molecules and cellular therapy.

We encourage eligible patients to inquire about clinical trials that are available and appropriate for their stage and type of lymphoma.

“Our multidisciplinary team is aware of the nuances for treating each type and sub-type of lymphoma. We have a deep understanding of the latest standard-of-care treatment options as well as clinical trials. We take care of lymphoma patients all day, every day, and that is a strong differentiator for our program.”

Shazia Nakhoda, MD, Medical Oncologist

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