Thumbnail image of: Lymph Nodes and Vessels: Illustration

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Discharge Information

What is non-Hodgkin lymphoma?

Lymphoma is a growth of abnormal white blood cells that form tumors in the lymph system. The lymph system is part of your body’s system for fighting infection. The lymph system consists of lymph nodes that store blood cells (lymphocytes) to fight infection and vessels that carry fluid, nutrients, and wastes between your body and your bloodstream. This disease can occur in one lymph node, in a group of lymph nodes, or in an organ. It can then spread to almost any part of your body.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is one of the many types of lymphoma. Other types of lymphomas are called Hodgkin lymphoma. The type of lymphoma is determined by how the cancer cells look under a microscope. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is much more common than Hodgkin lymphoma.

There are different types and stages of non-Hodgkin lymphoma based on where the cancer cells are found, what the cells look like, and how they grow. Knowing the type and stage of cancer you have can help your healthcare provider decide on the best treatment plan for you. It is important to diagnose and treat non-Hodgkin lymphoma as soon as possible. The main goals of treatment are to kill the cancer cells and prevent the cancer from spreading.

The cause of non-Hodgkin lymphoma is not well known. However, there are several things that may increase your risk. These include:

  • Impaired immune system or autoimmune diseases
  • Exposure to certain chemicals or radiation
  • History of diseases such as Epstein-Barr virus, Hepatitis C, or HIV
  • Being overweight or obese

How can I take care of myself when I go home?

How long it takes to get better depends on the type and stage of cancer, your treatment, how well you recover, your overall health, and any complications you may have.

Management

  • Your provider will give you a list of your medicines when you leave the hospital.
    • Know your medicines. Know what they look like, how much you should take each time, how often you should take them, and why you take each one.
    • Take your medicines exactly as your provider tells you to.
    • Carry a list of your medicines in your wallet or purse. Include any nonprescription medicines and supplements on the list.
    • Talk to your provider before you use any other medicines, including nonprescription medicines.
  • Your provider may also prescribe medicine or other therapy to:
    • Treat pain
    • Treat or prevent an infection
    • Treat or prevent low blood counts caused by the cancer or its treatment
    • Treat or prevent side effects, such as nausea or constipation, from other treatments
    • Help your immune system fight cancer
  • Take care of your health. Try to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Eat a healthy diet and try to keep a healthy weight. If you smoke, try to quit. If you want to drink alcohol, ask your healthcare provider how much is safe for you to drink. Learn ways to manage stress. Exercise according to your healthcare provider’s instructions.
  • You may need other treatments for your cancer after you leave the hospital. Treatments may include:
    • Chemotherapy (anticancer drugs), which uses medicine to kill cancer cells. Different types of chemotherapy may be given in the hospital, outpatient clinic, or at home.
    • Radiation therapy, which uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells. Radiation treatment may be done in the hospital or an outpatient clinic.
    • Biological therapy, which uses medicine designed to help your immune system fight the cancer or block the growth of cancer cells.

Appointments

  • Follow your provider’s instructions for follow-up appointments and routine tests.
  • Keep appointments for all other testing you may need. Testing may include:
    • Blood tests to check for certain hormones, proteins, or chemicals that may be high if you have cancer
    • Bone X-rays: Pictures of the inside of your bones to check for cancer
    • Bone scan: A series of detailed pictures that are taken after your healthcare provider injects a small amount of radioactive material into your blood. The scan shows any areas of bone where the radioactive material is being absorbed.
    • Chest X-ray: Pictures of the inside of your chest to check for cancer
    • Computed tomography (CT) scan: A series of X-rays taken from different angles and arranged by a computer to check other areas where the cancer may have spread
    • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): A powerful magnetic field and radio waves are used to take pictures from different angles to check other areas where the cancer may have spread
    • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan: A series of detailed pictures that are taken after your healthcare provider injects a small amount of radioactive material into your blood. The scan shows areas where the radioactive material is being absorbed.
  • Talk with your provider about any questions or concerns you have.

Call your healthcare provider if you have new or worsening:

  • Bloating or pain in your belly
  • Full feeling below your ribs, especially on the left
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Cough or trouble breathing
  • Depression
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Swollen lymph nodes in your neck, underarms, or groin
  • Tiredness

For more information:

Contact national and local organizations such as:

Developed by RelayHealth.
Acute Care Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-12-22
Last reviewed: 2014-12-22
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

Patient Portal

Our Patient Portal provides safe and secure online access to better communicate with your Tufts Medical Center Community Care doctor. This easy-to-use web tool is a convenient way to book appointments, request referrals, renew prescriptions, view medical records/test results and communicate with your healthcare provider from the privacy of your own computer.

PATIENT PORTAL >

Your privacy is important to us. Learn more about ourwebsite privacy policy. X