As the name indicates, lymphoma cancer affects the lymphocytes in the immune system. These cells are responsible for keeping the body clean of pathogens. A person is diagnosed with lymphoma when lymphocytes begin growing and multiplying at an uncontrollable pace. The increased rate of cell division causes tumors to grow in the affected area, which are normally near lymph nodes. The problem with lymphoma is that it causes lymphocytes to live longer than expected and divides faster than other cells. Treatment for lymphoma highly depends cancer's current stage. Typically lymphoma treatments result in total remission of the cancer and show no signs and symptoms.
Chemotherapy is one of the common treatments for lymphoma. In chemotherapy, chemicals are used to halt the division and multiplication of the cancer cells. During chemotherapy abnormal lymphocytes are damaged and do not then complete dividing. They essentially commit suicide after being damaged by chemotherapy. The process of chemotherapy is long, but is effective in damaging cancer and abnormal cells. This form of treatment also affects normal cells, but those cells are able to recover from the damages caused by chemotherapy. Patients will need to go through multiple stages of chemotherapy in order to completely make lymphoma reach remission.
Radiation, or radiotherapy, is another form of treatment that is common in treating lymphoma. Unlike chemotherapy that uses chemicals to damage cancer cells, radiation uses high-energy x- or gamma rays to target the affected area. The high-energy rays are focused in the area in which lymphoma is located in. Unlike chemotherapy, radiotherapy only affects the immediate targeted area. Radiation treatments tend to shrink the tumor until signs show that the cancer cells have gone into remission.
The goal of lymphoma treatments is to make the cancer go in a state of complete remission. This means that lymphoma would not show any signs of symptoms of ever being there. There is a chance that the lymphoma comes back, but after the initial treatment, whether chemotherapy or radiotherapy, patients undergo another therapy to help encourage remission.
The most common treatment for lymphoma cancer is radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Patients are normally fine with either treatments, but sometimes oncologists recommend a treatment that includes both methods. Chemotherapy focuses on introducing chemicals that damage and ultimately kill cancer cells. Radiotherapy is similar but uses high-energy rays to target abnormal cells in the body. A successful treatment would indicate that the cancer cells have gone into remission and show no further symptoms.