Our Approach to Lymphoma

Patients who come to the Siteman Cancer Center for treatment of lymphoma are seen by the appropriate member of a team of Washington University Physicians – medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and bone marrow transplant specialists.

You may be here for a second opinion, for a more definitive diagnosis or because you have relapsed from treatment somewhere else.

Because lymphoma is a blood disorder, radiation, chemotherapy and bone marrow transplant are the mainstays of therapy. Any imaging needed for staging and expert diagnosis can be scheduled during the same visit. What makes Siteman Cancer Center different from community hospitals is that our oncologists specialize in specific types of lymphoma.

Experienced nurses then spend time with you, answering your questions and putting you in touch with resources that may help during this stressful time. These nurses offer patients printed materials on lymphoma, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, bone marrow transplant and other related issues. As a unique feature of your care, we also offer the services of a palliative care specialist who can help you fit treatment into your own special circumstances, if needed.

Types of Lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

The most common type of lymphoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma is diagnosed in 75,000 – 80,000 people a year. It has 35 different subtypes, which help determine the best treatment. For treatment purposes, the subtypes are divided into how fast they grow: highly aggressive, intermediate and low-grade or indolent, which is the slowest growing. Sometimes, indolent types can be watched for years without treatment.

Examples of highly aggressive subtypes include: Burkitt and lymphoblastic lymphoma. Intermediate types include diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and mantle cell lymphoma. Indolent types include follicular and marginal zone lymphomas.

Other more rare types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma include:

  • AIDS-related lymphoma: People with HIV disease have an increased risk of developing infections, lymphoma and other types of cancer. Sometimes, people are diagnosed with AIDS and AIDS-related lymphoma at the same time. Because of the compromised immune system, AIDS-related lymphomas grow and spread quickly. Treatment is a combination of AIDS treatment and lymphoma treatment.
  • Primary CNS Lymphoma: In this type of lymphoma, malignant cells form in the lymph tissue of the brain and spinal cord. Primary CNS lymphoma may occur in people with AIDS, and other disorders of the immune system or who have had a kidney transplant. It usually does not spread beyond the central nervous system.
  • Cutaneous Lymphoma: This disease is a subset of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in which lymphocytes become malignant and affect the skin. Often cutaneous lymphoma can be treated only with topical preparations.

Hodgkin Lymphoma

Also known as Hodgkin’s lymphoma or hodgkin disease, only 7,500 cases are diagnosed in the U.S., making this rarer than non-Hodgkin. There are two main types of Hodgkin lymphoma: classical and nodular lymphocyte predominant.

Washington University Physicians at the Siteman Cancer Center treat an average of 325 new lymphoma patients a year, and are internationally recognized for their expertise.

Our oncologists are actively involved in clinical trials that investigate new chemotherapy regimens, and other approaches to cure. Having your cancer treated at Siteman gives you access to new therapies that are as good as – or potentially better than – current standard therapies available elsewhere.