Teenagers typically get one of two kids of lymphoma:
You can either jump right to the section that talks about your specific type of lymphoma or you can read a little about lymphoma in general.
So What is Lymphoma?
Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymph system. Your lymph system includes lymph cells, lymph nodes, your thymus, spleen, tonsils and adenoids. This system has two important functions:
- It helps your circulatory system carry nutrients to parts of your body and waste products from certain parts of your body.
- It also helps your body recognize, trap and destroy foreign cells, such as bacteria and virus.
Because of the importance of your lymph system, it is found throughout your body. Many times when you go to the doctor with a cold, the doctor feels for lymph nodes in your neck, but they’re also found above your collarbone, in your chest and abdomen, under your arms, and in your groin. Most teenagers with lymphoma have either Hodgkin’s Disease (cancer of the lymph tissue) or Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (cancer of the cells of the immune system that circulate throughout the body).
So, What’s Next?
Your specific disease and its stage of development will determine your individual treatment plan but it will likely include some combination of the following treatments:
- Chemotherapy (using drugs to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors) is the primary treatment for lymphoma. Chemotherapy is called a systemic treatment because the drugs enter your bloodstream, travel through your body, and kill cancer cells throughout your body.Chemotherapy may also be put into your spinal fluid (intrathecal chemotherapy) to treat certain types of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that spread to the brain.
- Low dose radiation therapy (using x-rays or other high-energy rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors) is also sometimes used.
- Bone marrow transplantation is sometimes used to treat lymphoma because lymphoma cells can become resistant to treatment with radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy.
High doses of chemotherapy are given before bone marrow transplantation. Because this can destroy your bone marrow, healthy marrow is taken from your bones before treatment or sometimes from a sibling donor. If you are able to use your own cells, your stem cells are collected after a round of chemo, then frozen while you go through transplant conditioning – high dose chemotherapy and/or radiation. The stem cells or marrow that was taken out is then thawed and given back to you through a needle in a vein. This type of transplant is called an autologous transplant (getting back your own stem cells). If the stem cells or marrow given to you is taken from another person, the transplant is called an allogeneic transplant. If you think you will need a bone marrow transplant, click here for more information on Bone Marrow Transplantation.