Lymphoma Radiation and Systemic Therapy

The medical oncologists at Fox Chase Cancer Center are regional and national leaders in the treatment of lymphoma. As part of the multidisciplinary team, your medical oncologist will help to determine your personalized treatment plan, which may include systemic therapies, such as targeted therapy, immunotherapy, or chemotherapy, either as standard of care or as part of a clinical trial.

Hodgkin’s Disease

Hodgkin's disease is generally treated using chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of both. The role of each depends on the stage of disease. Surgery may be used to diagnose the disease but is rarely used to remove the diseased organs. Nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin's lymphoma may be treated, if it is localized, using involved-field radiotherapy (radiation targets only the diseased area while sparing nearby healthy tissue).

For patients with early-stage Hodgkin's disease, Fox Chase doctors may offer a shorter course of less toxic chemotherapy, plus a smaller field of radiation therapy than has been typically used. Patients with advanced Hodgkin's disease usually receive a combination of chemotherapy agents, which may be followed by radiation therapy.

Treatment for patients with Hodgkin's disease that recurs depends on the patient's initial treatment and the new location of the disease. For those whose disease recurs after radiation therapy, treatment with standard-dose chemotherapy may be successful. When recurrence happens following initial treatment with chemotherapy, treatment may include stem cell transplant or a clinical trial.

Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

For aggressive non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, patients are divided into low-risk and high-risk groups. Low-risk patients generally receive a standard combination of chemotherapy with or without the monoclonal antibody Rituximab (immunotherapy) or may join a clinical trial. High-risk patients may receive a series of high-dose treatments with stem-cell support. Patients who relapse have access to another high-dose therapy trial with stem cell support or a clinical trial.

Patients with indolent lymphoma may be treated with observation (or "active surveillance"), Rituximab alone, or chemotherapy with or without Rituximab. For low-grade or indolent lymphoma, Fox Chase Cancer Center also offers studies based on targeting cancer pathways that might be activated in specific lymphoma subtypes. Studies using novel chemotherapy combinations are also available.

High doses of chemotherapy and radiation therapy can be given to patients with recurrent lymphoma while replacing blood-forming cells that are destroyed during treatment. Immature blood cells (stem cells) are removed from the blood or bone marrow of the patient to be frozen and stored. Following therapy, the stored stem cells are given back to the patient. These reinfused stem cells grow into and restore the body's blood cells, which makes recovery more successful.

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