Goals of Therapy

What are the Goals of Lymphoma Treatment?

The major goals of lymphoma treatment include:

  • Cure (if possible)
  • Bringing about and prolonging remission (cancer-free period)
  • Minimizing the number of lymph nodes and/or organs affected
  • Preventing the development of symptoms and treating existing ones
  • Improving the patient’s quality of life.

The term prognosis is used to predict how a disease will likely progress after diagnosis and treatment. It refers to the outcome of the disease and the likelihood of recovery for that patient. The prognosis given to you from your doctor is based on statistical research from hundreds or thousands of patients who had your same type of cancer and other variables similar to yours. However, it is important to keep in mind that the prognosis is a prediction and does not always accurately reflect the course of disease for each person. Doctors talk about results of treatment using certain terms that you may want to become familiar with. They include:

Primary therapy:
The first treatment given after a patient is diagnosed with cancer. Also called induction therapy.

Complete remission:
Also called complete response. A term which means that all signs of the cancer have disappeared following treatment. Partial remission or partial response means that the tumour has decreased in size but is still detectable.

Partial remission:
Also called partial response. The term used when a cancer has decreased in size by half or more but has not been completely eliminated. The cancer is still detectable and more treatment may be necessary.

Improvement:
The term used when the tumour size has decreased but is still larger than half of its original size.

Cure:
The term used when no signs or symptoms of the disease have been present for a certain period of time and the tumour has been eradicated. The longer a patient is in remission (absence of signs or symptoms of cancer), the higher the likelihood of a cure.

Stable disease:
The term used when the cancer does not get better or worse following treatment.

Refractory disease:
A cancer that does not respond to treatment.

Disease progression:
A worsening of the disease despite treatment. The term is often used interchangeably with the term treatment failure.

Relapse:
The return of cancer after a period of improvement. NHL may recur in the same area as the original tumour or it may relapse in another body area.

Remission:
A patient is said to be in remission if the tumour has diminished by half or more (partial remission) or is undetectable (complete remission). Remission does not necessarily imply that the cancer has been cured. If a certain cancer, for example an aggressive lymphoma, remains in remission for a certain period of time, usually five or more years, it may be considered cured. However, indolent lymphomas are not commonly considered cured because these cancers can relapse even after a long period of remission.