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Clinical Specialties - Cancer

Lymphoma

Haematologic Malignancy MDTLymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is important as it helps your body fight infections and other diseases.

The lymphoma experts at Sydney Adventist Hospital use several methods to confirm your diagnosis and determine the stage of your disease. They have experience with early-stage as well as complex cancer; have access to advanced diagnostic tools and a wide range of treatments, including clinical trials. At the same time, our supportive clinicians help you manage side effects to support your quality of life. Explore this section to learn more about lymphoma, its side effects and your treatment options.

About lymphoma

Lymphoma is the general term for cancers that start in the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is made up of a vast network of vessels (similar to blood vessels) that branch out into all the tissues of the body.

Lymphoma develops when lymphocytes grow and multiply abnormally. This can happen if the genes that control cell growth no longer work properly. Then the cells grow uncontrollably or live longer than they should.

There are more than 70 different types of lymphoma which can occur in either children or adults. They range from slow growing to highly aggressive. Lymphomas are categorised into two broad groups: non-Hodgkin lymphoma and Hodgkin lymphoma.

A doctor can tell the difference between Hodgkin's lymphoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma by examining the cancer cells under a microscope. If in examining the cells, the doctor detects the presence of a specific type of abnormal cell called a Reed-Sternberg cell, the lymphoma is classified as Hodgkin's. If the Reed-Sternberg cell is not present, the lymphoma is classified as non-Hodgkin.

Many subtypes of lymphoma exist, and your doctor will use laboratory tests to examine a sample of your lymphoma cells to determine your specific subtype. Determining the subtype helps your doctor make a diagnosis and determine the best treatment options.

What are the symptoms of lymphoma?

The first symptom normally experienced with lymphoma is painless swelling of one or more lymph nodes, typically in the neck, armpits, or groin.

Other common symptoms of lymphoma include:

  • Fever
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Sweating (often at night)
  • Lack of energy
  • Itching

Many of these symptoms may be related to other conditions such as a viral or bacterial infection when lymph nodes can become swollen. If they stay enlarged for an extended period, then it is worth visiting your general practitioner (GP) for further investigation.

How is lymphoma diagnosed?

In order to make an accurate lymphoma diagnosis, our pathologists will examine a tissue sample – called a biopsy. The biopsy tissue is removed for examination either by surgery or core needle biopsy (insertion of hollow needle into lymph node to remove tissue).

Following extensive pathology examination of this tissue, a diagnosis will be made and will define the extent and clinical features of the lymphoma (including the stage).

Based on these results, our Haematologic Malignancy MDT will then review the pathology findings and determine the best treatment plan for you and your cancer.

What are my treatment options for lymphoma?

Lymphoma treatment may include radiation, chemotherapy, or a combination of both. It may also include immunotherapy or other new treatments. The treatment that is best for you will depend on many factors, such as the type of lymphoma you have and whether it has returned after previous treatment.

The expert blood cancer specialists at Sydney Adventist Hospital will tailor your treatment to get the best outcome for you.

Resources and useful lymphoma links
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Sydney Adventist Hospital Clinical Specialties and Services