Lymphomas: Diagnosis & Treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering

Pictured: Craig Sauter Hematologist and medical oncologist Craig Sauter takes part in a meeting of the lymphoma disease management team, a close-knit group of experts that meets regularly to discuss treatment plans for patients and works constantly to improve treatment options.

Each year, more than 1,400 people come to Memorial Sloan Kettering for our expertise in diagnosing and treating Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas. We’re one of the largest referral centers for lymphomas in the world.

Our multidisciplinary team of more than 30 doctors, including specialists in radiation, pathology, nursing, and medical, surgical, and radiation oncology, collaborate closely to establish an accurate diagnosis and design a treatment strategy to give you the best treatment and, when possible, chance of a cure. These doctors regularly meet as a team to review patient care and work together on research.


Memorial Sloan Kettering experts discuss approaches to diagnosing and treating lymphoma, a cancer that begins in the immune system’s white blood cells.


Advances in molecular and genetic tumor testing as well as better understanding of the subtle biological differences among different lymphoma subtypes have transformed the way lymphomas are treated at MSK in recent years. 

For example, the nuances among lymphoma subtypes can help shape the treatment choices we recommend, since some drugs are more effective for and within certain subtypes.  

And with targeted therapies, we’re now able to select drugs that are specific to the protein changes that make lymphocytes into cancer cells. These agents are more selective (targeted) against tumor cells and cause fewer side effects than traditional chemotherapy drugs. New ones are also being explored through clinical trials.

Our radiation oncology experts are skilled in using the latest treatments to improve people’s outcomes, and often can offer intensity-modulated radiation therapy to deliver radiation to tumors with pinpoint precision. With the recognition that certain lymphomas respond well to lower doses of radiation, we’re often able to greatly reduce treatment side effects without compromising effectiveness.

A Personalized Treatment Plan

As a patient at MSK, you’ll likely start by meeting with a doctor to understand your diagnosis. Working as a team, multiple experts will then weigh in to shape a treatment approach tailored to you, after considering such factors as the type of lymphoma you have, where the lymphoma is affecting your body, and what symptoms you’re experiencing.

We use the latest genetic tumor testing, imaging, and other techniques to diagnose and stage even the most uncommon forms of this disease and are experts in selecting the most effective approach for you, possibly including surveillance, radiation, chemotherapy, and other targeted medicines.

As the home of one of the world’s leading adult stem cell transplant programs, MSK can offer you this treatment approach if it might benefit you. Because our doctors are leaders in clinical research, you may have the opportunity to participate in a transplant clinical trial that gives you access to treatments not yet widely available, such as cell therapy using genetically engineered chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T lymphocytes and immune system modulation therapy using novel monoclonal antibodies.

Treatment for Localized and Systemic Disease

Today, low doses of targeted radiation often can cure lymphomas confined to a single organ such as the stomach or eye. For certain kinds of lymphomas, we combine radiation therapy with chemotherapy to make it more effective and to reduce the risk of recurrence when the disease is more widespread.

For lymphomas that have spread throughout the body (systemic lymphomas), we sometimes offer radioimmunotherapy to deliver radiation to cancer cells without harming healthy cells.

Learn more about our approach to diagnosis and treatment for people with lymphomas.