Patients are advised to consult their physicians about the following blood tests that can be used to monitor the effectiveness of conventional medical treatment and nutritional supplements for lymphoma.
- Cancer cell markers: Several nutritional supplements, including curcumin and ginger extracts, work by reducing the production of proteins such as p53 and bcl-2. Production of these proteins could be monitored to assess the continued effectiveness of therapy (Han SS et al 1999; Miyoshi N et al 2003; Ranjan D et al 1999; Wu Y et al 2002d; Wu Y et al 2002a).
- Angiogenesis markers: Supplements of green tea, curcumin, resveratrol, and genistein work in part by blocking the production of growth factors, such as VEGF and interleukin-8 (IL-8), that cancer cells need to spread to other organs (Dulak J 2005). Patients using these nutritional supplements could routinely monitor these growth factors in their blood samples to assess the effectiveness of their therapy and check for disease progression. Reductions in VEGF levels have been linked to treatment response in lymphoma patients (Pedersen LM et al 2005).
- IL-6: Patients could also monitor levels of the cytokine (messenger) IL-6, as reductions in its levels have been linked with treatment response and can be used to forecast survival (Pedersen LM et al 2005).
- Beta-2-microglobulin: Levels of this protein are elevated in lymphoma patients, and monitoring it can be used to assess treatment response and disease progression; levels less than 3.0 mg/L are associated with remission (Escalon MP et al 2005; Litam P et al 1991).
- Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH): Levels of this enzyme are elevated in lymphoma patients before treatment, and monitoring it can be used to assess response to treatment and to forecast survival (Escalon MP et al 2005; Schneider RJ et al 1980).
- Molecular monitoring: Lymphoma cells can be detected in samples of blood and bone marrow. However, when these cells are present in very low numbers, molecular monitoring using a technique known as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is recommended to determine response to treatment and check for remission (Martin S et al 2005).
- Calcium levels: Patients using vitamin D supplements should be monitored for vitamin D toxicity, which can result in abnormally high calcium levels in the blood (Lagman R et al 2003).
Physical examination and diagnostic imaging should also be utilized to detect and/or monitor disease progression.
For More Information
Lymphoma patients may wish to consult the following protocols for additional information: