Can Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Go Away On Its Own?

Can Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Go Away On Its Own?

No, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma does not go away on its own without any treatment. Lymphoma is a malignancy occurring in the lymphocytes which are one type of WBC/white blood cells that play an important role in your immune system. There are two types of lymphomas non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) & Hodgkin’s lymphoma (HL), out of these two lymphomas non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the commonest lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is more common in elderly people (age more than 60), but it can occur in children as well.

There are mainly two types of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

  • B-cell lymphoma
  • T-cell lymphoma

B-cell lymphoma is the most common type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma can also be divided according to how fast the tumor grows & spread.

Indolent lymphomas – grows & spread slowly, some does not need treatment immediately. Some doctors wait & closely watch to see how the lymphoma grows & according to that treatment is initiated.

Aggressive lymphomas – grows & spread rapidly & needs to be treated immediately.

Some lymphomas like mantle cell lymphoma do not fit entirely into any of these divisions.

Indifferent to how fast the tumor grow & spread all non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas need treatment, if not it can spread to additional parts of the lymphatic system & to organs like liver, brain, & bone.

What Is Watchful Waiting For Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?

Many treatment options are available for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma but for certain types of indolent lymphomas your doctor might recommend you “watchful waiting” & sometimes it’s the best way to handle these types of indolent lymphomas. 30% of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients go into watchful waiting.

What happens in watchful waiting is non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma treatment is not initiated immediately, but instead regular check-up to monitor the cancer carefully will be done. Your doctor will tell you how often you should come for check-ups & your doctor will ask you if you have any symptoms or any difference, monitor the growth of the tumor, check for any changes in the lymph nodes, do investigations necessary to check the growth & spread of the tumor.

Some non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients go on like this for 2, 3 years before treatment is started. Cancer cells responds well to chemotherapy, radiotherapy, immunotherapy once the treatment is started just like how it responds when treatment was initiated when diagnosed.

With watchful waiting you do not need to experience the side effects associated with treatment like: loss of hair, nausea, vomiting, & increased risk of getting infections. Time without treatment means your cancer cells will not get resistant for treatments methods.

There are several types of lymphomas that can be monitored carefully without any treatment

Follicular lymphoma – this is the commonest indolent lymphoma & it’s the lymphoma that is commonly recommended for watchful waiting.

Other types that are recommended for watchful waiting for now are:

  • Marginal zone lymphomas
  • Lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma (also known as Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia)
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)/small lymphocytic lymphoma(SLL)

What Should You Do While Watchful Waiting?

If you get below symptoms consult your doctor immediately for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of weight
  • Continuous fever
  • Fatigue & tired more than usual
  • Lymph nodes already swollen starts to grow more
  • New swollen lymph nodes
  • Recurrent infections

You can also make this time to be healthy, have a healthy diet, do regular exercises, quit smoking, & stop consuming alcohol.

Summary

No, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) does not go away on its own without any treatment. All non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma needs treatment. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is divided into indolent lymphomas which grows & spread slowly & aggressive lymphomas which grow & spread rapidly. Some types of indolent lymphomas can be watched carefully “watchful waiting” without any treatment. Follicular lymphoma is the commonest type, watchful waiting is done. Your doctor will tell you to come for regular check-ups & in those your doctor will monitor the growth of the tumor, check for any changes in the lymph nodes, & do investigations necessary to check the growth & spread of the tumor. With watchful waiting you won’t experience side effects of treatment & the cancer cells won’t be treatment resistance for some time.

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