My dad has just been diagnosed with lymphoma. Does anyone have any experience with this? How serious is it, how treatable? My family isn’t really telling me much, because I don’t think they want me to worry, but I feel kind of helpless being all the way over here in Taiwan now.
My condolences at what must be a difficult time for you. Here’s a site that might be useful to you.
I know two people who have made complete recoveries from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
My step-father has been living with non-Hodgkin’s lymphatic cancer for six years. Basically, tumors grow in his lymph nodes (neck, underarms, groin) and make him weak and sick. The doctors put him on a mild form a chemo, and he gets better for six to twelve months. Then the tumors start growing again, and they zap them with a stronger chemo regimine. Fortunately, there are several grades of chemo that work well on lymphoma. The real danger comes from having a supressed immune system which makes one vulnerable to things like pnuemonia, and can lead to other forms of cancer. My step-dad is struggling with a sort of mild leukemia as a result of the lymphoma.
I know it won’t help much to say this, but I’ve seen a very strong man who worked in intellectually and physically demanding jobs reduced to a “good days and bad days” sort of existence. He was 62 when he was diagnosed. I think he’ll make it to 70 or a bit older. He’s still got a lot of fight left.
Best of luck to your dad in his own fight. It is one of the better cancers to have, if you’re going to have cancer.
Make sure he gets a second or third opinion as well. I was semi-diagnosed with atypical lymphatic hyperplasia here in Taiwan last year. They also suspected CLL (leukemia) and even possibly non-Hodgkins. However, after a month my atypical lymphacites went down to normal, my WBC count went back to normal, and my liver enzymes (previously enlarged) went back to normal. The symptoms for this disease and Leukemia in general are often misdiagnosed. For my own experience, I think it was a result of stress, overwork, poor diet, and years of smoking and hard drinking. They did a shitload of test including a bone marrow biopsy (ouch) but all were negative and inconclusive. Anyways, I have been healthy now for over 8 months. Above all this has reiterated to my that for all the technology and wisdom, medicine is still educated guessing.
I assume that it is non-hodgkin’s lymphoma your father was diagnosed with, which differs from Hodgkin’s lymphoma (Hodgkin’s disease). Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma classifications change every several years, but basically separating them from low grade to intermediate to high grades depending how aggressive the disease is. In general, the low grade (indolent)lymphomas have long natural history with median survival in the range of 8-12 years, although generally considered incurable. For low grade lymphomas, treatment may or may not be initiated at the time of diagnoses, and a period of watchful waiting may be appropriate.
The more aggressive lymphomas are more rapid growing, generally require immediate aggressive treatment (chemotherapy plus/minus radiation), but there is a chance for cure. However, in those people with an aggresssive lymphoma where disease relapsed multiple times despite aggressive treatments(including stem cell transplant), they eventually succomb to the disease eventually.
And I agree with that pathology examination on the biopsy specimen is extremely important. A good hematopathologist’s reading of the biopsy is the key to accurate diagnosis. The hematologist/oncologist (medical doctors that manage the treatments of cancer, generally do NOT read biopsies)do rely a great deal on their pathologists in telling them what type of malignancy the biopsy shows.
Hope this helps. By the way, I am a hematologist/oncologist in case you wonder where the information comes from.
Try getting one every 6 months for three years (alternating with a spinal tap every 3 months…yay.). Talk about “ouch”. And don’t even get me started on the time they were experimenting with how much anaesthesia I would need for a bone marrow biopsy and wound up giving me too little. :shock:
I don’t know a lot about lymphomas, but they seem to be much more treatable than leukemias.
Best wishes for your family while you deal with this, LBTW. I hope it all turns out for the best.
The PET scan revealed that it has spread to the entire lymphatic system, and the doctor says it’s “stage four”. He’ll require 2 years of chemotherapy treatment. Not sure about what the prognosis is though.