Lymphomas (Hodgkin and Non-Hodgkin) are treated within GWCC’s Malignant Hematology Program. Hodgkin's lymphoma — formerly known as Hodgkin's disease — is a cancer of the lymphatic system, which is part of your immune system. In non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, tumors develop from lymphocytes — a type of white blood cell.

Hodgkin's lymphoma occurs when cells dividing in the lymphatic system grow at an accelerated, disorganized rate. Because lymphatic vessels branch throughout the body, Hodgkin's lymphoma can arise anywhere and spread to organs like the liver, bone marrow and spleen. Typically Hodgkin's disease spreads systematically to adjacent lymph nodes.

Risk Factors

  • Diagnosed most frequently in patients between ages 18 and 34, and after the age of 55
  • Occurs more often in men than in women
  • Family history
  • Having the Epstein-Barr virus
  • A weakened immune system due to HIV

Symptoms

Those who suffer from Hodgkin's lymphomas may experience a combination of the following symptoms:

  • Painless swelling in the neck, underarms or groin
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Weight loss
  • Itchiness
  • Constant fatigue

Detection and Diagnosis

X-rays, CAT scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) and positron emission tomography (PET) scans are used by physicians to detect cancerous growth.

X-rays take pictures of the inside of the body with high-energy radiation. CAT scans take more detailed pictures of the inside of the body with an x-ray machine linked to a computer.

MRI's also take detailed pictures, but with a powerful magnet linked to a computer. 

PET scans gives more information about how organs and tissues are working useing a radioactive substance called a tracer. 

To make a diagnosis, a pathologist must perform a biopsy, or examine a piece of tissue removed by a surgeon from one of the patient's lymph nodes under a microscope.

Treatment Options

Radiation therapy kills cancer cells with intense x-rays aimed only at the cancerous growth. Radiation can be emitted from outside the patient's body or radioactive materials can be placed internally at the targeted area. Side effects from radiation therapy include loss of appetite, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and problems with digestion.

Chemotherapy involves taking drugs which kill cells that are growing rapidly, thus noncancerous cells can be killed as well. Side effects vary by type of drug but in general, hair loss, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, sores on the mouth and the lips and a lower resistance to infection are expected.

Bone marrow transplantation is reserved for cases when the Hodgkin's disease returns.

Non-Hodgkin's Lymphona

Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma occurs when cells dividing in the lymphatic system grow at an accelerated, disorganized rate. Because lymphatic vessels branch throughout the body, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma can arise anywhere and spread to organs like the liver, bone marrow and spleen.

Risk Factors

  • Men are at a slightly greater risk than women
  • Advanced age
  • A weakened immune system due to HIV
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Immunosuppressant drugs after organ transplants
  • Inherited immune deficiencies
  • Exposure to some chemicals like fertilizers, pesticides or solvents
  • A history of certain viruses may precede non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

Symptoms

Those who suffer from non-Hodgkins lymphomas may experience a combination of the following symptoms:

  • Painless swelling in the neck, underarms or groin
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Weight loss
  • Itchiness
  • Red patches on the skin
  • Constant fatigue

Detection and Diagnosis

X-rays, CAT scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) and positron emission tomography (PET) scans are used by physicians to detect cancerous growth.

X-rays take pictures of the inside of the body with high-energy radiation. CAT scans take more detailed pictures of the inside of the body with an x-ray machine linked to a computer.

MRI's also take detailed pictures, but with a powerful magnet linked to a computer. 

PET scans gives more information about how organs and tissues are working useing a radioactive substance called a tracer. 

To make a diagnosis, a pathologist must perform a biopsy, or examine a piece of tissue removed by a surgeon from one of the patient's lymph nodes under a microscope.

Treatment Options

Chemotherapy involves taking drugs which kill cells that are growing rapidly, thus noncancerous cells can be killed as well. Side effects vary by type of drug but in general, hair loss, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, sores on the mouth and the lips and a lower resistance to infection are expected.

Radiation therapy kills cancer cells with intense x-rays aimed only at the cancerous growth. Side effects from radiation therapy commonly include hair loss and skin irritations in the targeted area and fatigue. Radiation to the abdomen may result in temporary upset stomach or diarrhea, while radiation to the chest may cause lung damage, swallowing and breathing problems. Brain radiation therapy can lead to cognitive difficulties.

Bone marrow transplantation (BMT) or hematologic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is most commonly used for relapsed and recurrent lymphomas. This procedure supplies the patient with stem cells, which are cells that can develop into other types of cells, to replace those that have been damaged by other treatments. Stem cells can be transplanted from either person or patient. The cells have been removed and frozen. Risk of infection is high immediately following bone marrow transplantation.

In autologous BMT/HSCT, the patient serves as his own donor. Most often the stem cells are collected from the blood, where they have been 'tricked' to leave the bone marrow, where they usually reside. They are processed and frozen. After the patient receives high-dose chemotherapy, with or without radiation, they are given back their thawed stem cells as blood transfusion. These cells will replace the previously destroyed calls and allow the body to recover much faster.

In allogeneic, cells for a fully matched donor (usually a sibling), are given after high-dose chemo/radio therapy. This approach can be complicated by rejection called graft-versus-host disease. Transplants between identical twins (syngeneic) does not carry this risk.

Biological therapies make use of products of the body's own immune system. In a healthy person antibodies fight infection. Laboratory-made antibodies can fulfill the same function. Man-made monoclonal antibodies are designed to treat only lymphoma cells. Interferon, a protein usually generated by white blood cells, is known to shrink or stop the growth of lymphoma.

Lymphomas (Hodgkin and Non-Hodgkin) is treated within the GW Lymphoma Program

Lymphatic System
  • Unmatched Expertise in Lymphoma
  • GW Cancer Center offers expertise in lymphoma that is unmatched in the region. The lymphoma leadership team has a combined 50 years’ experience studying and treating lymphoma. Our goal is to make a meaningful impact in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of this disease – both regionally and nationally.

    Through research we aim to better understand the disease so that we can offer treatments that will provide excellent outcomes to patients. We focus on areas of research that haven’t been widely studied so that we can improve our understanding of and treatments for lymphoma.

Lymphoma Program Information

Specialty Care for Lymphoma

Our caring specialists will help you understand and manage your lymphoma diagnosis. We work as a team to provide an accurate diagnosis and to develop the treatment plan that will be most effective.

GW Cancer Center’s specialists offer second opinions for patients. We work closely with community oncologists so that patients can receive lymphoma treatments close-to-home, whenever possible.

Collaborative Care

Our experts work collaboratively to provide leading edge lymphoma care:

  • A multidisciplinary team of specialists come together to discuss every case. Patients benefit because these experts all agree upon the best treatment protocol, which may include clinical trials.
  • Our partnership with Children’s National Health System, allows us to treat every lymphoma patient, regardless of their age. This is key for patients with primary mediastinal B-cell lymphoma, which can affect both pediatric and adult patients.
  • We work closely with community oncologists in offering second opinions for lymphoma treatments. Whenever possible, we strive to have patients receive therapy close-to-home.

Clinical Research

Patients in clinical trials benefit from the latest developments in the field.

  • The Mid-Atlantic Lymphoma Consortium brings together experts from several centers in the region. Through this network, our team stays abreast of available clinical trials that may benefit our patients.
  • We continue to transform our own research, as well as that of others, into treatment plans. These treatments provide excellent – and advanced – outcomes for patients.
  • Leaders from our program participate in the Scientific Advisory Board of the Lymphoma Research Foundation. They collaborate with over 50 national experts. Our participation ensures early information about and access to promising clinical trials.
  • Our researchers focus on areas of research that haven’t been widely studied before. As a result, we can advance the understanding of lymphoma and develop new treatments.

Advanced Diagnosis and Treatment

GW Cancer Center offers the most advanced options for lymphoma:

  • The Food and Drug Administration’s approval of CAR T-cell therapy for aggressive B-cell lymphoma is expected in the near future. When that happens, GW Cancer Center is ready to offer this promising lymphoma transplant therapy to patients in our region.
  • Our physicians have experience treating lymphoma patients with immune deficiencies, including HIV.
  • With the help of immunotherapy agents, we can bolster the body’s immune system to help fight lymphoma.
  • We have expertise in treating rare or aggressive lymphomas. These include central nervous system lymphomas, mediastinal B-cell lymphoma, skin lymphoma, Mantle cell lymphoma, and Burkitt’s lymphoma.

Leading Edge Technology

GW Cancer Center invests in state-of-the-art technologies for cancer research, detection and treatment:

  • Our leading-edge laboratories help us understand the biology of lymphoma, including what impact microbes and viruses have on the disease.
  • New technologies exist for detecting the disease at the molecular level. We use them to study minimally residual disease (MRD), which is an indicator of whether the lymphoma has or may come back.
  • We offer sensitive liquid biopsies that provide information about how much tumor material a patient has. This is useful in the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of patients with lymphoma.

Non-Malignant Hematology Program Providers

Specialty: Breast Center, Cancer & Blood Disorders
Specialty: Cancer & Blood Disorders
Specialty: Breast Center, Cancer & Blood Disorders
Specialty: Cancer & Blood Disorders, Medicine
Specialty: Breast Center, Cancer & Blood Disorders
Specialty: Cancer & Blood Disorders
Specialty: Cancer & Blood Disorders
Specialty: Breast Center, Cancer & Blood Disorders, Thoracic Cancer Care Program

Breast Cancer Program Providers

Professor of Medicine, Director of the Lymphoma Program, Co-Director of the Microbial Oncology Program
Specialty: Cancer & Blood Disorders
Professor of Dermatology and Pathology
Specialty: Dermatology
Division Director, Cancer & Blood Disorders, Professor of Medicine
Specialty: Cancer & Blood Disorders
Professor of Medicine, Director, GW Cancer Center
Specialty: Cancer & Blood Disorders