Everyone's cancer is different, as are their circumstances, preferences, and beliefs. A treatment that works well for someone else may not be right for you. For non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are the most common treatments and one, or a combination of these treatments cure many people. A different set of therapies may be used to treat cutaneous lymphoma, which is a rare type of skin lymphoma.
Depending on your situation, your doctor may suggest other treatments, including options you can access by taking part in one of the many lymphoma clinical trials that are currently being conducted at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) and its parent organizations, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and UW Medicine.
Lymphoma and its treatment in children can be different than the disease and treatment in adults. If you are concerned about a child who has non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, please visit our section on childhood non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma depends on these factors:
- The stage of your disease
- The type of cells involved
- Whether your lymphoma is indolent (slower growing, usually with milder symptoms) or aggressive (faster growing, usually with more severe symptoms)
- Your age
- Your general health
Usually people with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma are treated with chemotherapy, radiation therapy, antibody therapy or a combination of these treatments. Doctors usually use surgery only for a biopsy to establish a diagnosis, not as part of treatment.
If you have slow-growing (also called “indolent” or “low-grade”) lymphoma and have no symptoms, your doctor may recommend “watchful waiting.” This means closely monitoring your health for any changes. During watchful waiting, patients do not receive treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Studies have shown that an initial period of watchful waiting does not compromise overall survival for patients with indolent lymphomas. Watchful waiting is not appropriate for patients with aggressive non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, who should always be treated promptly.
For those who do need treatment, the schedule varies from patient to patient. After your initial treatment, your doctor will monitor your condition to see whether your lymphoma is in remission or you need additional treatment.
Learn about chemotherapy treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Learn about radiation therapy for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Learn about antibody therapy for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Learn about bone marrow transplantation for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Learn about supportive care for patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.