You’ve been diagnosed with lymphoma. Now what?

If you have been diagnosed with lymphoma, you may be feeling overwhelmed with many questions. This guide aims to help you address some likely questions and prepare you for your first appointment with an oncologist who will create an appropriate plan for your lymphoma treatment.

Lymphoma is a broad term for a group of blood cancers that begin in cells of the lymphatic system.

There are two primary categories of lymphomas:

  1. Hodgkin lymphoma
  2. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL)

What Kind of Doctor Should I See?

Your lymphoma diagnosis may have come from your primary care physician (PCP) or another doctor who cared for you when you noticed symptoms. However, you’ll need to see a medical oncologist or hematologist for cancer treatment.

Oncology is the medical study of cancer, and a medical oncologist is a doctor of oncology specializing in cancer care, including treatments. Hematology is the branch of medicine focused on blood diseases, and a hematologist is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of blood diseases. 

Your oncologist or hematologist will spend time with you and your family to understand your specific situation. Other types of doctors will be brought in as needed for your treatment plan.

While being treated at WVCI, you may also meet with other lymphoma specialists throughout the treatment program, including one or more of the following:

  • Radiation oncologist, who uses radiation therapy to target the cancer cells and kill them
  • Oncology nurses, who will work closely with your physician to provide care for you. They will help answer frequently asked questions.
  • Other cancer care specialists who can assist with symptom management, nutrition, supportive care, etc

Keep Notes and Records

Before you see an oncologist or hematologist, we recommend getting a notebook and folder to take notes and keep paperwork together for your lymphoma treatment. You could also use the “notes” feature on your phone if you prefer. 

Start taking notes as soon as you’re diagnosed, even before your first visit with a lymphoma specialist. Keep track of any questions, dates, and medicine schedules. It’s also a good idea to jot down how you are feeling. This is all valuable information to share with your lymphoma care team.

Bring Support

During your first appointment, there will be a lot of information reviewed, and it can be hard to process everything if you’re alone. Therefore, we encourage you to bring a relative or friend along. Read our recommendations on preparing for your first visit at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and Research Center.

Questions to Consider Before You Arrive

You or your family members likely have a lot of questions. As they come up, consider writing them down so you can have them answered by the oncologist or hematologist. Some questions that you may want to ask include:

  • What type of lymphoma do I have?
  • How certain is the diagnosis? Should I get a second opinion? 
  • What is the extent (stage) of my lymphoma? 
  • What are the goals of the treatment you have chosen? 
  • How long will I need treatment? 
  • What are some common side effects? What can I do to manage them? 
  • Are there any new treatment options or clinical trials I should be aware of?

How Fast Do I Need to Make Decisions?

Different types of lymphomas spread at different rates, and while it’s important to act quickly, you want to make sure you give yourself enough time to listen to the recommended treatment plan and consider all your questions.

The blood cancer experts at WVCI are here to serve you with care, both physically and emotionally, as you journey through dealing with lymphoma.

Getting a Second Opinion

In order to feel confident in the diagnosis and the doctor who will be taking care of you, you may wish to get a second opinion before beginning any lymphoma treatment plan. At WVCI, our physicians provide many second opinions for all types of cancer diagnoses and treatment plans. While most insurance companies will cover a second opinion assessment, it’s best to check with your insurance provider to verify your coverage before making an appointment.

To schedule a second opinion with one of our physicians, please contact the office most convenient for you. 

Support Groups & Patient Resources

At Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and Research Center, we understand this is a difficult time. However, you can do this, and the WVCI team of physicians and cancer care specialists are ready to help you every step of the way. 

You might also find comfort by visiting our Resources page. You can also check out our list of support groups that you may find helpful.