Chemotherapy for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
by Jondavid Pollock, MD, PhD
Chemotherapy uses drugs to destroy cancer cells. The drugs enter the bloodstream and travel through the body. Chemotherapy primarily affects cancer cells but some healthy cells can also be damaged. The treatment plan and doses will be adjusted to provide the best effect against cancer with minimal side effects. Chemotherapy may be used on its own, but is more often used in combination with radiation therapy.
Chemotherapy may also be used in preparation for a bone marrow transplant, which may done for advanced or relapsed cases of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Chemotherapy Drugs and Delivery
There are a variety of chemotherapy drugs, but non-Hodgkin lymphoma is usually treated with specific regimens. The choice and combination of drugs is determined by the stage and type of lymphoma, as well as factors like your age and overall health. Examples of common chemotherapy drugs to treat non-Hodgkin lymphoma include:
Chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin lymphoma is usually given through an IV, but some forms can be given by mouth or directly into the cerebrospinal fluid. It is delivered in cycles over a set period of time. A medical oncologist will determine how many cycles of chemotherapy are needed and what combination of drugs will work best
Side Effects and Management
Though the drugs are targeted to cancer cells, they can affect healthy cells as well. The death of cancer cells and impact on healthy cells can cause a range of side effects. A medical oncologist will work to find the best drug combination and dosage to have the most impact on the cancer cells and minimal side effects on healthy tissue. Side effects or complications from chemotherapy may include:
A variety of treatments are available to help manage side effects including medication, lifestyle changes, and alternative treatments. In some cases, the chemotherapy regimen may be adjusted to reduce severe side effects. The earlier the side effects are addressed, the more likely they will be controlled with a minimum of discomfort. Long-term side effects can include damage to the heart, peripheral nerves, kidneys, lungs, and some cognitive dysfunction.
Adult non-Hodgkin lymphoma treatment (PDQ)—patient version. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/lymphoma/patient/adult-nhl-treatment-pdq. Updated December 8, 2017. Accessed March 30, 2018.
Chemotherapy and drug therapy. Leukemia & Lymphoma Society website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed March 30, 2018.
Chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/non-hodgkin-lymphoma/treating/chemotherapy.html. Updated May 31, 2016. Accessed March 30, 2018.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed... . Updated January 9, 2018. Accessed March 30, 2018.
Non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/hematology-and-oncology/lymphomas/non-hodgkin-lymphomas. Updated October 2012. Accessed March 30, 2018.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 4/7/2016
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at email@example.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.