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Non Hodgkin Lymphoma (Nhl): Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

What is the treatment? How is the treatment done? Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?) Who is not eligible for the treatment? Are there any side effects? What are the post-treatment guidelines? How long does it take to recover? What is the price of the treatment in India? Are the results of the treatment permanent? What are the alternatives to the treatment?

What is the treatment?

Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma is a type of cancer that affects the white blood cells. Several treatment options for patients who suffer from this disease. Some of the common treatment methods include chemotherapy, radiation therapy and stem cell transplant. Generally, a hematologist, a medical oncologist or a radiation oncologist is responsible for carrying out the different processes that are required to treat this type of cancer. The most suitable treatment option will depend on the patient's case. For less severe cases, chemotherapy or radiation therapy may suffice. However, if the cancer has progressed to an advanced stage, patients may be asked to go through a stem cell transplant in order to cure themselves of the disease. Before deciding on any particular treatment method, it is vital that the patient get a second opinion to be sure that the chosen method will prove to be most effective and safest option for his/her case. In certain cases, where the cancer is very small and in the initial stages, a simple biopsy can help remove it, after which the patient will not need further treatment.

How is the treatment done?

Depending on the treatment method opted for, the process can vary to a great extent. If the patient opts for chemotherapy, he/she will be administered medication for the cure of Non Hodgkin's lymphoma. Chemotherapy itself is administered in different ways, depending on the stage of the patient's cancer. In the initial stages, where cancer is curable, doctors may administer chemotheraphy through a drip that helps the transmission of the medication into the veins of the patient. If it's not curable. doctors can administer oral chemotherapy tablets. Moreover, if the cancer is spreading to the brain of the patient, injections will be given directly into the cerebrospinal fluid to help cure cancer. Radiation therapy is used to treat Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma in early stages. In this treatment method, the patient has to periodically visit the hospital where he or she is subjected to radiation in short sessions. This method is virtually painless. Stem cell transplant is of two types. One is called autologous stem cell transplant in which stem cells from patients own body are collected weeks before the treatment and are entered back into the patients bloodstream via an IV drip. The other type is known as allogenic stem cell transplant. In this type of transplant, a donor's stem cells are used, generally of a sibling's as long as the tissues match and they are then inserted into the patient's blood via IV.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

Patients who are in the intial stages of Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma are the most suitable candidates for chemotherapy as well as radiation therapy. Stem cell transplant is recommended for patients who are in remission or have experienced a relapse of their symptoms either during the treatment or after the treatment of this disease.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

Severely ill-patients who are in the later stages of cancer are not advised chemotherapy or radiation therapy for their Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma. As for stem cell transplant, patients who are above 65 years of age and suffer from severe comorbities may not be eligible for this treatment option.

Are there any side effects?

Each of the different treatment procedures for Non Hodgkins Lymphoma comes with their own set of side effects. Chemotherapy brings about side effects such as breathlessness, fatigue, easy bleeding and bruising and increased susceptibility to infections. Side effects of radiation therapy include red and swollen skin where the treatment was performed, exhaustion, dry mouth, nausea, loss of appetite and vomitting. Stem cell transplant brings with it many side effects too such as infections, bleeding, anemia, problems of the digestive system, hair and skin problems, pain and more.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

Post stem cell transplant, patients will have to wash their hands with a clinically tested soap to keep infections at bay, stay away from people who are ill, cover their mouth when going out in public, limit their exposure to sunlight and use ultrasoft toothbrushes to brush their teeth. As for chemotherapy, after every session patients will have to make sure that they eat high calorie and high protein foods, brush their teeth 2-3 times a day, wash their hands frequently and stay away from pets and animals. Apart from following the guidelines already mentioned , patients who have opted for radiation therapy should take extra care of the area where the treatment was carried out and make sure that it is not exposed to sun or cosmetics.

How long does it take to recover?

Recovery period of chemotherapy can take up to six monhths. As for radiation therapy, patients can expect the side effects to subside and to recover fully within a few months since the last radiation session. For patients who have gone through stem cell transplants, the recovery period can be fairly long and it may take several weeks for the white blood cell count to return to normal.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

The price of chemotherapy can India can go up to Rs. 1 lakh whereas that of radiation therapy can hover between Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2.75 lakhs. Stem cell transplants are very expensive and can range from Rs 20 lakhs to Rs 35 lakhs.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

The results of each of the treatments - chemotherapy, radiation therapy and stem cell transplant are permant. However, in certain cases, a relapse can take place.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

Plenty of alternative treatments are available for Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma. These include immunotherapy, targeted therapy, surgery, steroid medication and monoclonal antibody therapy.

Popular Questions & Answers

Hello sir mere mere Bhai ko hodgkin lymphoma ho Gaya hai age 23 years weight 61 kg pahle chemotherapy me uski wbc 6000 thi second chemo me 3500 third chemo me 1600 wbc hai. Aye din wbc count kam ho Raha suggest me sir Please.

MD - Radiotherapy
Oncologist, Vadodara
Chemotherapy ke liye WBC kam ho Jata he. Isse pareshan mat hoiye kyunki WBC ko badhane ke liye injection available Jain. Apne Oncologist se discuss Karen.
2 people found this helpful

Hi all, My mother is Non-Hodkins Lymphoma patient and she was treated for this in 2015. The treatment got completed in 2015 august. Pet-Ct is done regularly for every 6 months. A left level 1b and II cervical lymph nodes was observed with suv max of 4.8 and size of 2.4*1.3 since 1 year. Last year one left axillary node was also there with suv max of 5.8 so doctors asked us to get it biopsed and result is that its not cancerous. But now in the recent pet scan report left level 1b and II cervical lymph nodes was only present and the suv max of those nodes are less than the one that is taken in the past that is 4.4 and size of 1.7*9 mm. previously the doctors told that those nodes may no be cancerous and suggested that no biopsy is required for that node but now as there is no other nodes other than this there are threatening us to go for biopsy. As the same node is present since 1.5 years do we still go for biopsy. We are in dilemma whether to go for biopsy or not because its under neck and if something goes wrong situation will be worse. Please suggest some thing.

BASM, MD, MS (Counseling & Psychotherapy), MSc - Psychology, Certificate in Clinical psychology of children and Young People, Certificate in Psychological First Aid, Certificate in Positive Psychology, Positive Psychiatry and Mental Health
Psychologist, Palakkad
Dear user. I can understand. Please don't be panic. I suggest you to consult a oncologist in person. We are here to help you in every aspect of your mental and physical health. Any sexual or psychological problems can be cured with the help of var...
1 person found this helpful

Hello doctor, My mother has clinical diagnosis as "Suspected low grade non-hodgkin lymphoma" in bone marrow biopsy and flow cytometry impression says" marginal zone lymphoma, cd5 negative cll, lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma" and advice for evaluation for lymph node biopsy and immunohistochemistry for confirmation. Is still cancer is not confirmed? And one more questions I heard that carrot makes major role to cure or suppress cancer. Is this true doctor?

DM - Clinical Haematology, MD - General Medicine, MBBS
Hematologist, Durgapur
There are different types of small cell non Hodgkin's lymphoma, the exact types can be confirmed by immunohistochemistry reports and PCR testing. However all of them are lymph node cancer and may require urgent treatment with combination chemo the...
1 person found this helpful

I am 26 year old boy, I have hodgkin lymphoma in mediastinum and bone marrow spine, I can already take 6 cycle of chemo, and 12 cycle of radiation, now what kind of oral medicine can I take to treat this lymphoma?

FACS, MBBS, MS - General Surgery
Oncologist, Gurgaon
If you feel you can try one alternative cancer medicine orally cost will be four thousands per month for three months. This has no side effects.
1 person found this helpful

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