A doctor with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) said Monday that the B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that Gov. Larry Hogan was diagnosed with is curable.
Dr. Mark Roschewski, a staff clinician at NCI’s Center for Cancer Research, says the cancer is “a two-edged sword.” While fast-growing lymphoma requires the patient to drop everything and be treated quickly, the treatment is effective, according to Roschewski.
“Aggressive things tend to be more sensitive to treatment,” Roschewski said, “The majority of patients who get the treatment will be cured.”
Hogan, 59, said Monday that doctors had found about 40 lumps in his upper body possibly related to the cancer.
The governor said doctors have told him that the chemotherapy process will take about 18 weeks and that he plans to begin intense 24-hour chemo sessions soon. Hogan said he was diagnosed with the cancer shortly after returning from a 12-day Asia trip earlier this month.
Roschewski, who focuses on the management of aggressive lymphomas in his research, said that he couldn’t determine Hogan’s prognosis based on the information that was immediately available after the governor’s Monday afternoon press conference, but noted that all stages of lymphoma are curable.
“In lymphoma we pay attention to the stage, but it is not as critical in determining outcomes as in cancers that are more common like breast cancer,” Roschewski said. “With lymphoma it can be cured even if it is stage 4.”
Hogan said that he has reached at least stage 3, which means that the cancer is found in lymph node groups above and below the diaphragm, and possibly in the spleen or another nearby organ. If it reaches stage 4, the cancer has spread into areas of the body that are not a part of the lymphatic system.
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is a cancer that starts in cells called lymphocytes, which are part of the body’s immune system, according to the NCI website.
Hogan said he plans to work while receiving treatment.
Roschewski said that many patients treated at the Center for Cancer Research do continue to work with care that prevents nausea and other symptoms. However, he said it may be more difficult for someone in a high profile job like Hogan’s because the treatment causes fatigue.
The governor said that he will be treated by a team of doctors from Anne Arundel Medical Center, Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland Medical System.
“Johns Hopkins is a great cancer hospital, they have everything you would want to get treated,” Roschewski said, “I think in general he will be surrounded by many different people with many different expertise.”
According to the National Cancer Institute website, about 70% of people who are diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma survive 5 years or more.
The National Cancer Institute is based at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda.