Treatment for low-grade non-Hodgkin lymphoma

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On this page:

Low-grade NHL treatment: Early stage  

 

  • Watch and wait: Having no treatment. Your doctor will give you regular check-ups to monitor your lymphoma. You can start treatment if things change. Read more about watch and wait.
  • Radiotherapy: Using high energy rays to destroy the cancer cells. Radiotherapy may be used on its own when the lymphoma is found in one or two groups of lymph nodes in the same part of your body. It may also be given after a course of chemotherapy. Radiotherapy can also be used if the lymphoma has affected the fluid around your brain. Read more about radiotherapy
  • Drug treatments: Using chemotherapy and other drugs either before or after radiotherapy. Steroids can help to kill the lymphoma cells and to improve how the chemotherapy works. They can also help with side-effects like feeling sick.

Remission

If you have early stage low-grade lymphoma, there is a good chance of getting a complete remission after treatment, so the lymphoma won’t come back.

Low-grade NHL treatment: Advanced stages 

  • Chemotherapy: Using drugs to kill the cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs may be given on their own, in combination with each other or with other treatments like steroids. Read more about chemotherapy.
  • Targeted therapies: Monoclonal antibodies are the type most commonly used. For example, Rituximab. Read more about targeted therapies.
  • Radiotherapy: Using high energy rays to target the cancer cells in the lymph nodes. Read more about radiotherapy
  • Stem cell transplant: All the blood cells in your bone marrow are destroyed with high-dose chemotherapy or radiotherapy and replaced with healthy stem cells. Transplants are not suitable for every patient and are rarely used for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Read more about stem cell transplants

High-grade lymphomas usually respond very well to treatment. Many people are cured or stay in remission for a long time, with a good quality of life. If it does come back (relapse), it can be treated again. 

What side-effects will I get?

The type of side-effects you get will depend on:

  • The kind of treatment
  • The dose
  • How long treatment lasts
  • Your own general health

Some treatments might make you less resistant to infection, feel sick (nausea), vomit or have diarrhoea. You might also lose your appetite or your hair. Many treatments cause you to feel very tired (fatigue). Read about the different treatments for more about their side-effects. 

Most side-effects do not last long and disappear once treatment is over. The side-effects of stem cell transplant can be more severe. 
Your doctor or nurse will discuss any possible side-effects with you before treatment begins.

For more information

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