I've Just Been Told I Have Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

Lymphoma is a kind of cancer that begins in lymphoid tissue. Your lymph system includes collections of lymph tissue (in lymph nodes or in certain organs) and vessels that carry liquid called lymph. Its role is to help fight infection. The 2 main types of lymphatic system cancer are Hodgkin's lymphoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Hodgkin's lymphoma is often called Hodgkin's disease. And non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is often called lymphoma. Both of these lymphomas start in white blood cells, called lymphocytes. These cells are made and stored in the lymph nodes and in some other organs in the body.

People with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma now have more treatment choices and more hope for survival than ever before. Doctors keep finding new treatments for the lymphoma and ways to help people with it have a better life. Your doctor can use a biopsy to tell the type of lymphoma you have, but it's likely you'll need other tests to learn about how far the lymphoma has progressed, called the stage.

To decide the best course of treatment for you, your healthcare team needs to know as much as they can about you and your lymphoma. This may involve getting some tests. And you may need to work with more than one doctor or other type of healthcare expert.

Your healthcare team will likely include a hematologist (a doctor specializing in blood) and/or an oncologist (a doctor specializing in cancer) and an oncology nurse. The team will answer any questions you may have and help you through each of the steps you'll take before, during, and after treatment. Your team will let you know what tests you need and the results of those tests. They'll guide you in making treatment decisions.

How quickly you begin treatment, and even whether you have treatment at all, depends on how fast your lymphoma is growing. But, in most cases, you have time to have more tests, if necessary. You also have time to talk with your doctor about treatment choices, get a second opinion, decide about treatment, and prepare yourself and your loved ones.

To better understand what is happening inside you, it will help you to understand the basic anatomy of the lymphatic system.







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