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Lymphoma cancer is a cancer of the lymph system. The lymph system controls the amount of fluid in your body and helps your body to fight disease.

This page gives information about:

  • The disease
  • What happens if you are referred to use
  • The different ways we treat it
  • The support that we can offer

Who we are

Lymphoma is cancer of the lymphatic system (the part of the immune system that fights infection). We treat Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

We are also the supraregional treatment centre for cutaneous T-cell Lymphoma (CTCL), a type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma of the skin.

What we do

Support - every step of the way - Specialist lymphoma nurses stay with you throughout your treatment journey, from your first clinic appointment to aftercare. They’re there to help with problems and questions you or your family may have.

A treatment plan that’s right for you - Specialists from different medical areas meet weekly. This is called a multi-disciplinary team meeting (MDT) and is central to the way we work. The MDT advises, supports and creates treatment plans that are personalised for every patient.

Access to the latest treatments - Clinical trials are vital in the fight against lymphoma. Our trials programme makes the latest treatments available to patients – often giving them a better outcome.

Research-driven care - As a university hospital, we lead research into lymphoma diagnosis, treatment and prevention. We regularly publish research papers that help in the fight against cancer.

If you are diagnosed with a Lymphoma

Staging the lymphoma

Staging measures of how extensive the lymphoma is. We decide the stage when all tests have been completed.

  • Stage 1: the lymphoma is limited to one group of lymph nodes.
  • Stage 2: two lymph node groups are affected, either above or below the diaphragm (a muscle in the centre of your chest used in breathing).
  • Stage 3: the lymphoma has spread to lymph node groups that are both above and below the diaphragm.
  • Stage 4: the lymphoma is present in organs outside of the lymphatic system, such as the liver, bone marrow or lungs.

Making a decision – support

The specialist lymphoma nurse is there to help you with the decision making process. The nurse acts as your key-worker and is your first point of contact for any questions you may have

Being referred to us

Your GP will refer you to the hospital if you show symptoms that need further investigation. These include:

  • painless swelling in the neck, armpit or groin
  • unexplained tiredness, night sweats and weight loss
  • fever
  • trouble getting rid of infection

What happens when you see us

Our team of lymphoma experts will see you within two weeks of receiving a referral from your GP. We use the following tests to identify lymphoma:


Biopsy:
We remove some or all of the affected lymph node. This is examined by an expert in diseased tissue (pathologist). The pathologist can identify the lymphoma type if cancer cells are detected.Biopsies are usually carried out with local anaesthetic. However, general anaesthetic (where you are put to ‘sleep’) is required if the lymph node is not accessible.

Further tests: We will need to investigate further if the biopsy reveals lymphoma. This is to see how far it has spread. Tests include:

X-ray

Computer Tomography (CT scan): the CT scanner takes x-ray pictures of inside your body. A computer then puts them together to create a 3-D image.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI scan): this uses radio and magnetic waves to make a picture of inside the body.

Bone marrow biopsy: a needle is used to remove a sample of bone marrow from your pelvis. This is done using a local anaesthetic.

Blood tests: to check how well your liver, spleen and immune system is working.


Lymphoma treatment

Your test results are discussed by the multi-disciplinary team (MDT). This is a team of doctors and health professionals who specialise in different aspects of treating lymphoma.

What happens next

Treatment depends on the person. However, you can expect to be having treatment for up to six months on average.

Treatment depends on how the lymphoma is behaving. Some lymphomas don’t show any symptoms and don’t need immediate treatment. However, faster growing lymphomas are treated using the following methods.

  • Chemotherapy - Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer. The type of chemotherapy you receive will depend on the type of your lymphoma.
  • Intravenous chemotherapy: This is given by injection - either through a needle in the back of a hand, or through a plastic line threaded into a vein in the elbow or neck.
  • Oral chemotherapy: this is given as tablets to be swallowed.

Most types of chemotherapy are given in the hospital on an out-patient basis. This means that you don’t have to stay in the hospital overnight. Patients then get to stay at home to recover between courses. The recovery time will depends on the type of chemotherapy.

Radiotherapy: This uses radiation to kill cancer cells. It is often used to treat stage 1 and stage 2 lymphomas. It can be given in combination with chemotherapy. Radiotherapy is carried out at the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre.

Steroids are used in combination with chemotherapy for some types of lymphoma. Research shows that steroids make chemotherapy more effective.

Monoclonal antibody therapy (e.g. Rituximab) This is used to treat some types of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Monoclonal antibodies are special medicines designed to recognise specific cancer cells and then destroy them. One of the most commonly used medicines is called Rituximab.

Bone marrow and stem cell transplant - Bone marrow or stem cell transplantation is a possible alternative if you do not respond to treatment for lymphoma. For some patients, a transplant may offer the best chance of cure.

More information

Clinical Trials

You may be asked to take part in a clinical trial. Clinical trials help us learn more about the best way to treat specific conditions. You can find out more about the Clinical Research Unit by visiting the website here

The Team

The MDT give advice on treatment options that would benefit you the most. Of course, you have the final decision about the treatment you receive. Members of the MDT include:

  • Consultant haematologist - an expert in blood cancers, lymphoma and chemotherapy
  • Specialist registrar - a senior doctor who is an expert in lymphoma
  • Radiation oncologist - an expert in radiotherapy
  • Pathologist - a specialist in the study of diseased tissue.
  • Pharmacist
  • Dietician
  • Counsellor
  • A specialist lymphoma nurse.

How to contact us

Linda McCartney Centre, Royal Liverpool University Hospital
Prescot Street
Liverpool
L7 8XP

Contact Details for the Cancer Team : 0151 706 3700

Facts

We are the regional centre for bone marrow and stem cell transplants. We offer transplants to patients from Merseyside, Isle of Man, parts of Cheshire and North Wales.