- How is non-Hodgkin lymphoma treated?
- Chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- Immunotherapy for non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- Targeted therapy drugs for non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- Radiation therapy for non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- High-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplant for non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- Surgery for non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- Palliative and supportive care for non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- Treating B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- Treating T-cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas
- Treating HIV-associated lymphoma
How is non-Hodgkin lymphoma treated?
General treatment information
Once non-Hodgkin lymphoma has been diagnosed and staged, your cancer care team will discuss treatment options with you. Several different types of treatment can be used against non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The treatment options depend on the type of lymphoma and its stage (extent), as well as the other prognostic factors. Of course, no 2 patients are exactly alike, and standard options are often tailored to each patient’s situation.
The main types of treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma are:
In rare cases, surgery is also used.
Based on your treatment options, you may have different types of doctors on your treatment team. These doctors may include:
- A hematologist: a doctor who treats disorders of the blood, including lymphomas.
- A medical oncologist: a doctor who treats cancer with medicines.
- A radiation oncologist: a doctor who treats cancer with radiation therapy.
Many other specialists may be involved in your care as well, including nurse practitioners, nurses, nutrition specialists, social workers, and other health professionals. Learn more about this in our document Health Professionals Associated With Cancer Care.
It’s important to discuss all of your treatment options as well as their possible side effects with your doctors to help make the best decision for you. (See the section “What should you ask your doctor about non-Hodgkin lymphoma”). In choosing a treatment plan, consider your health and the type and stage of the lymphoma. Be sure that you understand all the risks and side effects of the various treatments before making a decision. If time permits, it’s often a good idea to seek a second opinion. Getting a second opinion can give you more information and help you feel confident about the treatment plan you choose. Your doctor should be willing to help you find another cancer doctor who can give you a second opinion.
Thinking about taking part in a clinical trial
Clinical trials are carefully controlled research studies that are done to get a closer look at promising new treatments or procedures. Clinical trials are one way to get state-of-the art cancer treatment. In some cases they may be the only way to get access to newer treatments. They are also the best way for doctors to learn better methods to treat cancer. Still, they are not right for everyone.
If you would like to learn more about clinical trials that might be right for you, start by asking your doctor if your clinic or hospital conducts clinical trials. You can also call our clinical trials matching service at 1-800-303-5691 for a list of studies that meet your medical needs, or see “Clinical Trials” to learn more.
Considering complementary and alternative methods
You may hear about alternative or complementary methods that your doctor hasn’t mentioned to treat your cancer or relieve symptoms. These methods can include vitamins, herbs, and special diets, or other methods such as acupuncture or massage, to name a few.
Complementary methods refer to treatments that are used along with your regular medical care. Alternative treatments are used instead of a doctor’s medical treatment. Although some of these methods might be helpful in relieving symptoms or helping you feel better, many have not been proven to work. Some might even be dangerous.
Be sure to talk to your cancer care team about any method you are thinking about using. They can help you learn what is known (or not known) about the method, which can help you make an informed decision. See Complementary and Alternative Medicine to learn more.
Help getting through cancer treatment
Your cancer care team will be your first source of information and support, but there are other resources for help when you need it. Hospital- or clinic-based support services are an important part of your care. These might include nursing or social work services, financial aid, nutritional advice, rehab, or spiritual help.
The American Cancer Society also has programs and services – including rides to treatment, lodging, support groups, and more – to help you get through treatment. Call our National Cancer Information Center at 1-800-227-2345 and speak with one of our trained specialists on call 24 hours a day, every day.
The next few sections describe the types of treatment used for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. This is followed by a discussion of the typical treatment options based on the type of lymphoma, stage, and other prognostic factors when these are important.
Last Medical Review: 08/26/2014
Last Revised: 01/22/2016