Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Overview

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Treating Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma TOPICS

Palliative and supportive care in the treatment of non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Palliative (or supportive) care is treatment aimed at symptoms to improve your quality of life. It is often given when cancer treatment is no longer working, but it can also be given along with standard cancer treatment. Sometimes, the treatments you get to control your symptoms are the same as treatments used to treat cancer, like chemotherapy or radiation. The difference is the goal of treatment – to help symptoms, not to make the cancer go away. For instance, when lymph nodes become enlarged, they may press on nerves and cause pain. Radiation therapy to these areas may help relieve the pain. Pain medicines can also be given.

Symptoms such as fatigue can be caused by low red blood blood counts. Sometimes, a patient will need blood transfusions or treatment with drugs that help make new blood cells.

Some patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma are more prone to infection because they have low levels of antibodies to fight germs. They may be helped by giving them infusions of antibodies.

Nausea and loss of appetite can be treated with drugs and high-calorie food supplements. If the lymphoma has spread to the lungs, patients may get short of breath. Oxygen may be used to help treat this symptom.

Be sure to tell your health care team about any symptoms you are having, including any side effects from treatment. There are often ways to help control or lessen these symptoms. This is an important part of your overall treatment plan.

For more information on palliative care and getting help with side effects, see the Palliative or Supportive Care section of our website.

Last Medical Review: 08/27/2014
Last Revised: 01/22/2016