Accurate diagnosis of your non-Hodgkin lymphoma subtype is crucial in determining the proper course of treatment, so it is important to be seen at — or consult with — a large lymphoma treatment center like ours, which diagnoses and cares for many patients with all forms of this kind of cancer.
Data from our program shows that in 10 to 15 percent cases, a second opinion from Dana-Farber renders a different diagnosis from what was given by a referring doctor. Our hematopathologists and radiologists conduct and study these diagnostic test results on a daily basis, which has given us a tremendous amount of expertise in this area.
Until recently, non-Hodgkin lymphoma patients were often treated with very similar chemotherapy regimens, regardless of the cancer subtype. Advances in research have revealed subtleties in the various forms, leading to nuanced treatment protocols. Correctly identifying the subtype of lymphoma is particularly important in determining:
- If immediate treatment is needed and the aggressiveness of the plan.
- The correct chemotherapy regimen.
- Whether to integrate radiation therapy into the treatment plan.
- The timing of components of treatment, possibly including a stem cell transplant.
We use a variety of highly specialized tests — including genetic and molecular profiling — to distinguish between the different subtypes. This is crucial, since even within the same diagnosis, the specific mutation "profile" of a cancer can predict very different outcomes.
We take findings from all of these tests and integrate them to make an accurate diagnosis.