The lymphatic system is a network of tiny vessels extending throughout the body. They are often next to the veins and arteries but are even smaller than them. Scattered along these vessels are lymph nodes. The lymphatic vessels carry a clear fluid called lymph from the extremities and organs back to the blood circulation. The job of the lymphatic system is to fight infection and disease. A tumor of the lymphatic system is called lymphoma.
The two main types are Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas.
- Hodgkin’s lymphoma (or Hodgkin’s disease) most often begins in the larger, more central lymph nodes of the body- those along the largest blood vessels of the neck, central chest, abdomen along the spine, and armpit and groin areas where the vessels return from the arms and legs. Hodgkin’s is very treatable and often curable; 80 percent of patients with Hodgkin’s live longer than 10 years after diagnosis. First described by Dr. Thomas Hodgkin in 1832, Hodgkin’s lymphoma was incurable until radiation therapy began to cure patients fifty years ago. Hodgkin’s is now usually treated with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy, either alone or together.
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is a general term for about 30 different types of lymphoma that differ from Hodgkin’s lymphoma. NHL is eight times more common than Hodgkin’s lymphoma. All types of NHL are treatable, and many are curable. NHL is usually treated with chemotherapy, biologic therapy and/or radiation therapy. In some types of NHL a stem cell transplant may be part of treatment. Depending on your cancer and overall health, you might receive only one of these treatments or several in combination.
Leukemia is cancer of the blood and bone marrow (the soft material in the center of most bones). The treatment that’s right for you depends mainly on the type of leukemia, your age, and your general health. People with leukemia have many treatment options, and you may receive more than one type of treatment.
Types of Lymphomas/Leukemia We Treat
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphomas
- Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
Depending on your cancer and particular situation, lymphomas can be treated with radiation, biologic therapy and/or chemotherapy, either alone or in combination with each other.
Treatment options for leukemia may include watchful waiting; chemotherapy; targeted therapy; radiation therapy; and/or stem cell transplant. Prior to receiving a stem cell transplant you may receive radiation therapy to the whole body, known as total body irradiation or TBI. This is to destroy the leukemia cells in the bone marrow (and also destroys the normal blood stem cells). You will then receive healthy blood stem cells through a vein. The transplanted stem cells will move to the bone marrow and make new blood cells.
The physicians at the University of Washington Department of Radiation Oncology work very closely with your medical oncologist and entire care team to determine which combination of treatment is best for you. Because of our team’s deep collaboration with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, you can be assured that your treatment plan will be highly individualized and based on latest the advances in cancer research.
Please contact us if you are interested in a consultation to discuss the options that best fit you.