Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma (DLBCL)


A patient with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma is initially seen by a general practitioner who carries out several preliminary tests. If the test results suggest the possibility of cancer, the patient is usually referred to a specialist, such as a hematologist or medical oncologist, who arranges further tests to assess for the presence of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). If NHL is diagnosed, the specialist discusses and considers treatment options with other healthcare professionals in a multidisciplinary team meeting.1 A range of healthcare professionals cooperate and coordinate throughout the course of treatment to ensure appropriate patient care. This care team might include the following:

Anesthesiologists

An anesthesiologist administers anesthesia so that the patient does not feel any pain during surgery or other procedures.

Cancer Care Coordinators

A cancer care coordinator cooperates with other members of the multidisciplinary team and supports the patient and their family throughout all phases of treatment. Clinical nurse consultants or clinical nurse specialists may also fill this role.9

Diagnostic Radiologists

A diagnostic radiologist is a medical expert who performs a range of imaging procedures (such as radiography, computed tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging) to obtain internal images of the body. They then carefully interpret these images to diagnose the disease.4

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Hematologists or Hematologic Oncologists

While a hematologist is a medical expert who diagnoses and treats diseases of the blood, a hematologic oncologist specializes in treating cancers of the blood. Hematologic oncologists determine the type of cancer and the best treatment option. They may prescribe chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and other drug therapies. They may also conduct stem cell transplants and chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy.2

Hematopathologists

A hematopathologist is a specialist in diseases that affect the blood, bone marrow, and lymph nodes. They analyze the cells and tissues from biopsy to confirm diagnosis and staging and provide information about biomarker testing.3

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Interventional Radiologists

An interventional radiologist uses imaging techniques to guide treatment procedures such as needle biopsies, line and tube placement, fluid and abscess drainage, and port placement.5

Lymphedema Therapists

A certified lymphedema therapist is a medical professional trained to give a type of massage called manual lymph drainage. In this therapy, very light pressure is used to move trapped fluid in a swollen limb toward an area with working lymph vessels.11

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Medical Oncologists

A medical oncologist is a specialist who diagnoses and treats cancer in adults using systemic therapy such as chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, and targeted therapy. In some cases, a medical oncologist is the main treatment specialist instead of a hematologist. A medical oncologist supports and coordinates patient treatment with other specialists.8

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Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants

Nurse practitioners and physician assistants are healthcare providers who manage some clinic visits of patients. They administer chemotherapy or other drugs and provide care, information, and support throughout treatment. 

Nutritionists and Dieticians

Nutritionists and dieticians provide guidance on what foods are most suitable for a patient’s condition or other concerns regarding nutrition. These experts can help plan a healthy diet to counter the side effects of treatments, such as loss of appetite.

Occupational Therapists

An occupational therapist helps people manage tasks and activities of daily living.

Oncology Nurses

An oncology nurse is a crucial member of the cancer care team with advanced training in caring for people with cancer or those at risk of cancer. They may provide hands-on care, like giving systemic therapy, managing patient care (making appointments, handling insurance problems, etc), answering questions, educating family members about treatments and side effects, and helping patients cope with side effects.10

Oncology Pharmacists

An oncology pharmacist dispenses medications used to treat cancer, gives advice about dosage, and helps manage symptoms and side effects. 

Palliative care team

Palliative care nurses, advanced practice providers, physicians, social workers, and chaplains help provide an extra layer of support with cancer-related symptoms to maintain patients’ quality of life. They also help guide patients and their caretakers through the course of their disease and important decision-making.

Physical Therapists

A physical therapist helps people move with greater comfort and ease.

Psychologists and Psychiatrists

Psychologists and psychiatrists are mental health experts who can help manage issues such as depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions that can affect how patients feel in response to diagnosis and treatment.

Radiation Therapists

A radiation therapist plans, calculates, and administers therapeutic doses of ionizing radiation to patients, as prescribed by a radiation oncologist.7

Radiation Oncologists

A radiation oncologist is a doctor with a specialty in prescribing, planning, and overseeing radiation therapy to treat cancer.6

Research Team

A research team helps to collect research data and coordinate care for patients involved in clinical trials.

Residents and Fellows

Residents and fellows are doctors who are continuing their training to become specialists in a certain field of medicine.

Social Workers

A social worker helps patients and their families manage problems through the course of their disease. They provide support services and help with emotional, practical, and financial issues. A clinical social worker may diagnose and provide treatment for mental, behavioral, and emotional issues.

References

  1. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma: your health care team. Cancer Council NSW. Accessed August 31, 2022.
  2. What is hematologic oncology? Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Updated April 29, 2022. Accessed August 31, 2022.
  3. Hematopathology/hematology. Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Careers in Medicine. Accessed August 31, 2022.
  4. Diagnostic radiology. InsideRadiology. Updated October 14, 2016. Accessed August 31, 2022.
  5. Professions in diagnostic radiology. RadiologyInfo.org. Accessed August 31, 2022.
  6. Definition of radiation oncologist. National Cancer Institute (NCI) Dictionary of Cancer Terms. Accessed August 31, 2022.
  7. What is radiation therapy? University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. Accessed August 31, 2022.
  8. Definition of medical oncologist. National Cancer Institute (NCI) Dictionary of Cancer Terms. Accessed August 31, 2022.
  9. Lie NEK, Hauken MA, Solvang PK. Providing coordinated cancer care–a qualitative study of Norwegian cancer coordinators’ experiences of their role. Cancer Nurs. 2018;41(6):463-472. doi:10.1097/NCC.0000000000000504
  10. Rieger PT, Yarbro CH. Role of the oncology nurse. In: Kufe DW, Pollock RE, Weichselbaum RR, et al, eds. Holland-Frei Cancer Medicine. 6th ed. Hamilton, Ontario: BC Decker; 2003. Accessed August 31, 2022.
  11. Lymphedema: diagnosis & treatment. Mayo Clinic. September 18, 2021. Accessed August 31, 2022.

Reviewed by Harshi Dhingra, MD, on 8/29/2022.

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