Refractory Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

Exploring the Types & Treatment of Refractory Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) is a cancer that affects the body's lymphatic system, which carries immune cells throughout the body. It is considered refractory or relapsed when it doesn't respond to, or stops responding to, initial or previous treatments for the disease.

Refractory NHL is hard to treat and can, therefore, be more life-threatening than other types of NHL. Fortunately, doctors and researchers are studying and developing new treatments that can help bring relief to those who suffer from this disease.

Types of NHL

NHL is divided into two main categories: indolent NHL and aggressive NHL.

  • Indolent NHL is the slow-growing, low-grade type that may require no treatment or long-term watchful waiting. Although indolent NHL may never cause symptoms or need treatment, it can still progress.
  • Aggressive NHL is a fast-growing high-grade cancer that needs treatment to control it as soon as possible. This type of NHL can quickly spread to other areas of the body, making it life-threatening.

Treatment of Refractory NHL

Patients with refractory NHL may be offered one of several different treatments, including:

  • Chemotherapy: This is the most commonly used treatment for NHL, and it can be used to either shrink the tumor or keep it from growing. Depending on the type and stage of the NHL, chemotherapy medications may be given in combination with other treatments.
  • Radiation: Radiation uses high-energy X-rays or particles to destroy cancer cells or shrinks a tumor to slow the growth of extra cells. Doctors may recommend radiation to target a hard-to-reach area of the body or to shrink a large tumor before trying chemotherapy.
  • Immunotherapy: Doctors may try different types of immunotherapy, such as monoclonal antibodies, to help slow down or stop the growth of cancer cells.
  • Clinical trial: Participating in a clinical trial can give patients access to the latest treatments being studied and tested for NHL.

Sometimes, these treatments can be used alone, but in many cases, they work better in combination. It’s important to talk to a doctor to explore which treatment option may be right for you.