Surgery is rarely used to treat non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). Surgery is mainly used to remove all or part of a lymph node (biopsy) to diagnose the lymphoma.
Surgery may be done for a rare type of lymphoma called splenic marginal zone lymphoma. For this type of lymphoma, the spleen is removed (splenectomy). For other types of lymphoma, the spleen may be removed if it contains lymphoma cells and is swollen, but this is not done very often. A splenectomy is done under a general anesthetic. The surgeon makes a cut (incision) in the abdomen to remove the spleen (open splenectomy). If the spleen is not too enlarged, it can sometimes be removed through smaller incisions using a laparoscopelaparoscopeA procedure that uses an endoscope (a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and lens) to examine or treat organs inside the abdomen and pelvis.. It takes about 4–6 weeks to recover from surgery, less time if the spleen is removed with a laparoscopic splenectomy. After a splenectomy, people are more at risk for infection, so vaccinations are given before and after the spleen is removed.
Occasionally, if the lymphoma starts in the stomach or small intestine, surgery may be done to remove the entire tumour.
The Canadian Cancer Society is actively lobbying the federal government to establish a national caregivers strategy to ensure there is more financial support for this important group of people.