How is lymphoma of the skin treated?
General treatment information
In recent years, much progress has been made in treating skin lymphoma, and several newer types of treatment have come into use.
Once a skin lymphoma is found and staged, your health care team will discuss your treatment options with you. The treatment options for a person with skin lymphoma depend on the kind of lymphoma and its stage, as well as other factors such as your overall health. Of course, no two patients are exactly alike, and treatment options are tailored to each patient’s situation.
Several types of treatment can be used for skin lymphoma. These can generally be divided into:
- Treatments directed only at the skin
- Treatments that can affect the whole body (systemic treatments)
Sometimes these treatments are used together. See “Treatment for specific types of skin lymphoma” for information on common treatment plans.
Based on your treatment options, you might have different types of doctors on your treatment team. These doctors may include:
- A dermatologist: a doctor who treats diseases of the skin
- A hematologist: a doctor who treats disorders of the blood, including lymphomas
- A medical oncologist: a doctor who treats cancer with medicines
- A radiation oncologist: a doctor who treats cancer with radiation therapy
Many other specialists might be part of your treatment team as well, including nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses, nutritionists, social workers, and other health professionals. See Health Professionals Associated With Cancer Care for more on this.
It is important to discuss all of your treatment options, including their goals and possible side effects, with your doctors to help make the decision that best fits your needs. It’s also very important to ask questions if there is anything you’re not sure about. You can find some good questions to ask in “What should I ask my doctor about lymphoma of the skin?”
If time allows, it is often a good idea to get a second opinion. A second opinion can provide more information and help you feel confident about the treatment plan you choose.
Thinking about taking part in a clinical trial
Clinical trials are carefully controlled research studies that are done to get a closer look at promising new treatments or procedures. Clinical trials are one way to get state-of-the art cancer treatment. In some cases they may be the only way to get access to newer treatments. They are also the best way for doctors to learn better methods to treat cancer. Still, they are not right for everyone.
If you would like to learn more about clinical trials that might be right for you, start by asking your doctor if your clinic or hospital conducts clinical trials. You can also call our clinical trials matching service at 1-800-303-5691 for a list of studies that meet your medical needs, or see the Clinical Trials section to learn more.
Considering complementary and alternative methods
You may hear about alternative or complementary methods that your doctor hasn’t mentioned to treat your cancer or relieve symptoms. These methods can include vitamins, herbs, and special diets, or other methods such as acupuncture or massage, to name a few.
Complementary methods refer to treatments that are used along with your regular medical care. Alternative treatments are used instead of a doctor’s medical treatment. Although some of these methods might be helpful in relieving symptoms or helping you feel better, many have not been proven to work. Some might even be dangerous.
Be sure to talk to your cancer care team about any method you are thinking about using. They can help you learn what is known (or not known) about the method, which can help you make an informed decision. See the Complementary and Alternative Medicine section to learn more.
Help getting through cancer treatment
Your cancer care team will be your first source of information and support, but there are other resources for help when you need it. Hospital- or clinic-based support services are an important part of your care. These might include nursing or social work services, financial aid, nutritional advice, rehab, or spiritual help.
The American Cancer Society also has programs and services – including rides to treatment, lodging, support groups, and more – to help you get through treatment. Call our National Cancer Information Center at 1-800-227-2345 and speak with one of our trained specialists on call 24 hours a day, every day.
Last Medical Review: 08/04/2014
Last Revised: 02/24/2016