Cancer Care

Lymphoma Cancer Care

Our Approach to Lymphoma Treatment

With lymphoma, patients have enlarged lymph nodes filled with cancer cells. This rare cancer also is called cancer of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is the part of your body that helps fight off diseases. There are many different types of lymphoma. They are categorized as Hodgkin’s lymphoma or Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. MaineHealth Cancer Care specialists offer comprehensive services for lymphoma that include early detection, diagnostic imaging, and personalized treatment. You care team may include:

  • Medical oncologists treating lymphoma use medicine (chemotherapy, targeted therapy, biotherapy and/or immunotherapy) rather than radiation.
  • Surgeons treating lymphoma focus on the surgical management of the disease.
  • Radiation oncologists use high-energy X-rays to destroy cancer cells while sparing the surrounding normal tissue.
  • Cancer Patient Navigators make sure you have everything you need to make informed decisions about your care.

Lymphoma symptoms

A person with lymphoma may have a variety of symptoms. The symptoms can mirror other conditions. So it is important to see your primary care provider if you are having any of these signs:

  • Enlarged lymph nodes

  • Swollen abdomen (belly)

  • Feeling full after eating a small amount of food

  • Shortness of breath or coughing

  • Fever

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Night sweats

  • Extreme tiredness

  • Low red blood cell count (anemia)

Variety of tests help to diagnose lymphoma

 In addition to a physical exam and providing a medical history, patients may undergo a biopsy of the affected area. Other tests include:

  • Routine blood work

  • Bone marrow biopsy X-rays

  • CT scan

  • MRI

  • Ultrasound

Your doctor will discuss treatment options

If you are diagnosed with lymphoma, your healthcare provider will discuss your treatment options with you. You may be referred to an oncologist, a doctor that specializes in cancer treatment. The main types of treatment options are:

  • Chemotherapy

  • Immunotherapy

  • Targeted therapy

  • Radiation

  • Stem cell transplant

  • Surgery

Getting a second opinion is not uncommon in cancer care. At MaineHealth, we know how important it is to be confident in the care approach and treatment for lymphoma. We want to make every effort to facilitate a second opinion, whenever the patient – and in many situations, the provider – wants to seek a second opinion. This is important to us, and our focus on patient-centered care.

What is a second opinion?

A second opinion is when a patient or physician seeks another physician specialist’s review of a patient’s diagnosis or recommended treatment. It is common in cancer, especially if a patient has an unusually complicated condition or rare form of the disease.

When you choose to obtain a second opinion for the care and treatment of a lymphoma diagnosis, your physician forwards test results such as radiology images, blood work and pathology slides. The physician may recommend another physician specializing in that cancer, or the patient may find a specialist through a primary care physician, online research or a relative or friend’s recommendation.

To confirm that insurance will cover the cost of second opinion visits, it is recommended that you verify by contacting your insurance company directly.

Preparing for your visit

Like all visits for cancer care, when you are getting a second opinion, it’s helpful to write down your questions in advance and take notes during the conversation. Physicians often recommend that you bring someone with you to help you recall the discussion later. It can be difficult to process what you’re hearing especially if you’re scared or anxious about your condition.

Physicians also may seek another physician’s opinion either on a one-on-one basis, or by asking a multidisciplinary group of cancer specialists to review and weigh in on a patient’s diagnosis or treatment. This team of specialists includes medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and surgical oncologists, as well pathologists, pharmacists and patient navigators. They meet regularly to review patients’ cases.

Where to go for a second opinion?

MaineHealth has locations where patients and their physicians may obtain second opinions. Each site includes lymphoma experts who have advanced training and experience.

MaineHealth Maine Medical Center

Maine General Medical Center’s Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care