B cell Lymphoma and How it is Treated

November 12, 2012

B cell Lymphoma and How it is Treated

If you or a friend have B cell lymphoma, it is a good idea to know what treatment options you have.

B cell lymphomas comes in many forms and are classified accordingly. B cell lymphoma is referred to as non-Hodgkin lymphoma. This is a cancer that specifically affects the B cells which are responsible for making antibodies. B stands for bone marrow derived lymphocyte (white blood cell). It turns out that there are slow and fast growing B cell lymphomas. All in all, healthcare providers have to consider what type of lymphoma you have in other words what category your in, time course of development and what stage you are currently in. All of this determines method of treatment. Basically what we’re looking at here is: radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, growth factors and transplantation.

X-ray Therapy (Radiation Therapy)

Radiation therapy also known as X-ray therapy uses a high energy beam to kill bad cells. X-ray therapy is generally used on patients who are in the early stage of cancer. If for any reason you cancer is further along or developing faster, chemotherapy may be used as a second treatment. The nice thing about X-ray therapy is that it can hit specific groups of cells anywhere. As far as side effects from X-ray therapy, this depends what part of the body has to be irradiated, how often and the strength of the X-rays.

Drug Therapy (Chemotherapy)

Chemotherapy says it right in the name. That is to say chemicals or drugs will be used to kill a B cell lymphoma. It is possible that chemotherapy and X-ray therapy will be used together. There are a number of chemotherapy drugs and it is not unusual for several drugs to be used at the same time. All this depends on what stage of cancer you are in and how severe it is. However, something known as “CHOP” is often used due to its success rate. CHOP stands for the combinations of drugs used in chemotherapy. These drugs include cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine and prednisone. Sometimes it happens that a particular drug in the mix is not working and therefore the doctor will have to make a substitution. Moreover, biologic agents may be used as well. Biologic agents are natural molecules that are used to enhance immune function. Some of these include interferon, interleukin and monoclonal antibodies to name a few.

Immunotherapy and Antibodies

Immunotherapy makes use of some biologics that are synthetic (man-made) that are normal parts of the immune system to destroy B cell lymphoma. These molecules have long chemistry names but are important for you to familiarize yourself with and they include: rituximab, ibritumomab, alemtuzumab and of course interferon. Mab on the end of the word means it is a monoclonal antibody. There are many interferons and each one works a little differently but basically they get inside a cell and turn on certain genes that will express certain cell surface proteins. This often has the effect of walling off that cell keeping it separate from other cells around it.

Low Blood Cell Counts and Growth Factors

Chemotherapy often causes damage to your blood cells both red and white making it difficult to survive B cell lymphoma. Growths factors come to the rescue and increase your red blood cell count and white blood cell count. Without red blood cells you can’t get oxygen and nutrients to all the tissues and organs of your body. Anemia sets in. White blood cells are important for immunity to protect you from pathogens such bacterial and virus. You need to maintain healthy blood cell counts to survive.

Bone Marrow Transplants

Sometimes people with B cell lymphoma require a bone marrow transplant. This is often done when the patient goes into remission or after one relapse. The cancer patient’s own bone marrow cells are killed with chemotherapy and then replaced with donor cells. The donor cells can come from someone else or from the same person.

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