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Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin lymphoma


Chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Chemotherapy may be used to fight all types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, including aggressive and non-aggressive forms, and may also be used to help prevent the disease from recurring. Chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin lymphoma often consists of giving several drugs together in a set regimen. A common form used specifically to treat diffuse large B-cell lymphoma is CHOP chemotherapy, which is a combination of four chemotherapy drugs.

Depending on the regimen, chemotherapy may be administered in pill form, as an injection, or intravenously. You may receive chemotherapy alone, or in combination with other non-Hodgkin lymphoma treatments, such as targeted therapy and radiation therapy.

Potential side effects of chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Chemotherapy is designed to destroy rapidly dividing cancer cells, but it can also affect normal fast-growing cells, such as those in the hair, mouth, stomach and bone marrow. Chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin lymphoma may also temporarily interfere with the ability of the bone marrow to produce adequate numbers of blood cells, resulting in various side effects.

Depending on the types of drugs administered and your individual response, some common side effects of chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin lymphoma include:

  • Cardiotoxicity (heart muscle damage)
  • Anemia (low red blood cell count)
  • Neutropenia (low white blood cell count)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Taste changes
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Neuropathy (pain, numbness or tingling in the hands and feet)
  • Mouth sores
  • Hair loss
  • Sexual dysfunction

Helping you manage chemotherapy-related side effects

We may use a combination of approaches to help prevent or manage chemotherapy-related side effects throughout your non-Hodgkin lymphoma treatment. For example, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics as a preventive measure before you begin treatment.

Since chemotherapy may temporarily lower your blood cell counts, we may do routine blood tests to check the levels of white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. If your counts are low, we may modify your treatment or use certain drugs to help stimulate blood cell production. You may also may be given a transfusion to restore your counts to a normal level.

Additionally, therapies such as nutrition therapy, naturopathic medicine, pain management and oncology rehabilitation may help reduce chemotherapy-related side effects and keep you strong to help you continue to participate in the activities you enjoy most. Mind-body medicine and spiritual support may improve your emotional well-being so you feel better throughout treatment.