General health care providers rarely undertake the sole care of a cancer patient. The vast majority of cancer patients receive ongoing care from oncologists but may in fact be referred to more than one oncologist should there be any question about the disease. Patients are always encouraged to gain second opinions if the situation so warrants this approach.
- Although medical treatments are fairly standardized, not all physicians behave similarly.
- One may choose to speak with more than one oncologist to find the one with whom he or she feels most comfortable.
- In addition to one’s primary care physician, family members or friends may offer information. Also, many communities, medical societies, and cancer centers offer telephone or Internet referral services.
Once one settles in with an oncologist, there is ample time to ask questions and discuss treatment regimens.
- The doctor will present each type of treatment, discuss the pros and cons, and make recommendations based on published treatment guidelines and his or her own experience.
- Treatment for lymphoma depends on the type and stage. Factors such as age, overall health, and whether one has already been treated for lymphoma before are included in the treatment decision-making process.
- The decision of which treatment to pursue is made with the doctor (with input from other members of the care team) and family members, but the decision is ultimately the patient’s.
- Be certain to understand exactly what will be done and why, and what can be expected from these choices.
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Determing the Type of Lymphoma:
The diagnosis of lymphoma is not enough information for a doctor to give proper treatment. He or she must also determine which of the two main types of lymphoma -– Hodgkin or non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) — a patient has. The type of lymphoma can be identified by the physical appearance of the cancer cells under the microscpoe, or by using markers that identify special molecules on the lymphoma cells. It’s important that a pathologist skilled in lymphoma makes the determination.
- Types of Hodgkin Lymphoma
- Understanding the Different Types of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL)
- Lymphoma Markers
Tests after Diagnosis:
Once the diagnosis of lymphoma is clear, it becomes necessary to perform a number of tests to see how far the disease has spread and which organs are involved. Scans of different parts of the body as well as a bone marrow test may be done if the doctor feels it is required. Also, some blood tests can show how advanced the disease is, and if the patient is fit for treatment with chemotherapy. Once these tests are done, the oncologist can discuss treatment options with the patient.
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