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Types of treatment for non Hodgkin lymphoma

Men and women discussing non Hodgkin's lymphoma

This page tells you about treatment for non Hodgkin lymphoma. You can find the following information

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Types of treatment for non Hodgkin lymphoma

When non Hodgkin lymphoma is diagnosed a team of doctors and other professionals work together to decide on the best treatment for each person. The main types of treatment for NHL are chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and biological therapy. Some people may have surgery. Sometimes high dose chemotherapy with a stem cell transplant may be used to try to increase the chance of curing NHL.

Some people need only one type of treatment and others need more than one. Your doctors need to know several things to be able to decide which treatment you need, including

  • The type and grade of NHL you have
  • The stage of NHL you have
  • Your general health
  • Your age

There are many different types of non Hodgkin lymphoma. Your doctor can tell which type you have by looking at the cells under a microscope. The different types are grouped together depending on whether they tend to be faster or slower growing. This is called the grade of NHL. Non Hodgkin lymphomas can be low grade (indolent), which are slow growing, or high grade (aggressive), which are faster growing.
 

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Types of treatment

The main types of treatment for NHL are chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and biological therapy. Sometimes surgery is used. Sometimes stem cell transplants may be used to try to increase the chance of curing the NHL.

Doctors have made a lot of progress in treating non Hodgkin lymphoma over the past few years. More progress is being made all the time. The number of people that can be cured keeps going up and it is possible to cure people even with advanced disease.

We have information pages about

 

How your doctor decides on your treatment

Some people need only one type of treatment and others need a combination of treatments. Your doctor takes a number of things into account when deciding which treatment you need, including

  • The type and grade of NHL you have
  • The stage of NHL you have
  • Your general health
  • Your age
 

Type of NHL

There are many different types of non Hodgkin lymphoma. Your doctor can tell which type you have by looking at the cells under a microscope. Look at the section about types of non Hodgkin lymphoma for more information about the different types and grades of NHL.

The different types are grouped together depending on whether they tend to be faster or slower growing. This is called the grade of NHL. Non Hodgkin lymphomas can be low grade (also called indolent), which tend to grow slowly. Or they can be high grade (also called aggressive), which tend to grow more quickly.

Click on the links below to go to pages about

 

The stage of NHL

There are 4 different stages of non Hodgkin lymphoma. Your doctor decides which stage you are by finding out if your lymphoma has spread and by asking whether you have any particular symptoms. In practice, doctors put the stages into 2 main groups to decide on treatment. These are called

  • Limited disease or localised disease
  • Advanced disease

There is information about staging NHL in this section.

 

Treatment groups

Your doctor will put you into one of four basic groups to work out the treatment you need

  • Low grade with limited disease
  • Low grade with advanced disease
  • High grade with limited disease
  • High grade with advanced disease

These groupings only provide a guide for doctors to follow. Individual treatment decisions can only be made by your own doctors, who have all the information about you and your circumstances. But we have an outline of the treatment that you are likely to have for each of these groups.

 

Your treatment team

When lymphoma is diagnosed, several doctors and other health professionals work together to decide on the most appropriate treatment. The team of doctors and health professionals is called a multi disciplinary team (MDT). The members of the team specialise in different areas of non Hodgkin lymphoma treatment and support. The team usually includes the following people

  • A haematologist (a specialist in drug treatment for lymphoma)
  • A specialist cancer nurse (also called clinical nurse specialist)
  • A pathologist
  • A transplant specialist
  • A radiotherapy specialist (clinical oncologist)
  • A pharmacist, social worker, psychologist and counsellor
 

More about NHL treatments

We have detailed information about non Hodgkin lymphoma treatments in this section.

If you would like more information about any aspect of non Hodgkin lymphoma, you can phone the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040. The lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. They will be happy to answer any questions that you have.

Our non Hodgkin lymphoma organisations page gives details of other people who can provide information about NHL and its treatment. Some organisations can put you in touch with a cancer support group. They often have free factsheets and information which they can send to you. 

There are also books, booklets, CDs and other resources available about non Hodgkin lymphoma. Some of these are free. Look at our NHL reading list for details.

If you want to find people to share experiences with online, you could use Cancer Chat, our online forum.

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Updated: 10 September 2014