Changes to your lymphoma treatment due to COVID-19

During the coronavirus pandemic, there might be some changes to how you have your lymphoma treatment. These changes are to keep you as safe as possible. Your medical team will consider your situation on an individual basis and will weigh up the risks and benefits of any changes to your treatment. They will work with you to determine the best course of action for you. They will tell you about any changes that are happening and why they are necessary for you.

If you have any concerns or questions about your treatment, please speak to your medical team.

You might also find our further information on coronavirus guidance for people affected by lymphoma and on how to shield yourself helpful.

On this page

Changes to your general lymphoma care

Changes to your hospital appointments for lymphoma treatment

Changes to your treatment

Changes to clinical trials

Drug and medicine supplies


Changes to your general lymphoma care

Your medical team will tell you if the way you have your treatment is going to change.

  • Check with your GP or hospital team before you attend any appointments. If your appointment is not essential, it might be cancelled or postponed to reduce your risk of being exposed to coronavirus. You might have some appointments by phone or video instead of face-to-face.
  • If your treatment includes medicines you take at home, you might be able to get repeat prescriptions without needing a hospital appointment first. The medicines might be able to be delivered to your home, or a friend or family member might be able to collect them at a drive-through pick-up point.
  • You might have a longer gap than usual between your hospital appointments or check-ups. This lowers your risk of being exposed to coronavirus.
  • If you are having treatment and your symptoms are improving, you are unlikely to have a scan unless it is needed to guide what treatment you have next. This helps keep the number of hospital appointments you have to a minimum.

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Changes to your hospital appointments for lymphoma treatment

If you are having lymphoma treatment and you have a fever or any other signs of infection, including a cough, contact your key worker or chemotherapy helpline, not NHS 111. They will assess your symptoms and advise you on what you need to do.

If you have your treatment in a hospital outpatient or day case unit, there might be some changes to how this works. Your medical team will explain these to you. There are also some precautions you should take to reduce the risk to you and your family and friends.

  • Your appointment might be in a different place from usual to help keep you away from other people as much as possible. Some regions are developing cancer hubs, where people who have cancer can be treated separately from people with other conditions.
  • Your medical team might ask you to arrive for your treatment at a different time than usual. Medical teams are trying to rearrange their appointment schedules to have as few people as possible in each department at any one time.
  • Don’t arrive early for your appointment. It is important to spend as short a time as possible at the hospital. Your medical team might ask you to wait in the car until they call you in for your appointment (for example, via text message).
  • If possible, you should not have a friend or family member with you while you have your treatment. This will help reduce the risk of developing or spreading coronavirus infection. If a friend or family member usually takes you to and from your appointment, you could ask them to drop you off and collect you when you have finished, rather than waiting with you. Alternatively, they could wait for you in the car.
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitiser before you set off for your appointment, as soon as you arrive at the hospital, and at frequent intervals while you are at the hospital. Wash your hands or use hand sanitiser again before you leave the hospital and as soon as you arrive home.
  • During your appointment, try to stay at least 2 metres (6 feet) away from other people (apart from essential interactions with medical staff).

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Changes to your treatment

All essential or urgent treatment for cancer will continue. However, there might be some changes to the treatment you have, or how you have it. These changes aim to reduce your risk of being exposed to coronavirus while you are having your lymphoma treatment. If your medical team suggests any of these changes, they will talk to you about why the changes are necessary. Your medical team is aiming to give you the best chance of avoiding coronavirus infection while still treating your lymphoma.

  • You might have the same medicines as usual, but given in a different way. For example, you might have rituximab as an injection under your skin (a subcutaneous injection) instead of through a drip into a vein (an intravenous infusion). This way of having ritixumab is just as effective at treating lymphoma but it is quicker to have, so you don’t have to be at the hospital for as long. Subcutaneous rituximab is not usually available for lymphoma treatment on the NHS (except for maintenance therapy), but this might change temporarily during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • You might have your treatment less frequently than usual – for example, every 4 weeks instead of every 3 weeks – so you don’t have to attend hospital as often.
  • Your medical team might suggest a shorter treatment regimen so you need fewer hospital appointments.
  • Your medical team might consider using a different treatment regimen – for example, one that doesn’t lower your immune system as much as standard treatment.
  • If you are having a long-term treatment regimen, your medical team might suggest that you have a break from treatment for a while. Your treatment will carry on when it is safe to do so.
  • If you are due to have a stem cell transplant, it might be postponed until it is safer for you to have it. If your stem cell transplant is urgent, you should follow guidelines on shielding for at least 2 weeks before your transplant.

A message to people with cancer from NHS doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals at this unprecedented time.

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Changes to clinical trials

Due to the current coronavirus pandemic, many clinical trials in the UK have temporarily stopped accepting new participants. If you are interested in taking part in a clinical trial, your consultant may be able to advise you whether it is currently open and if you might be eligible based on your individual circumstances.

If you are already receiving treatment as part of a clinical trial, you are likely to have fewer hospital appointments, tests and scans than stated in your clinical trial information sheet. This is to keep you as safe as possible at this time. Check with your research nurse or trial centre before you attend any clinical trial appointments.

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Drug and medicine supplies

At present there are no medicine shortages in the UK linked to coronavirus, and no drug manufacturers have said they expect problems with supply due to coronavirus. The government is monitoring the situation and is taking precautionary measures to help make sure the supply of medicines to patients in the UK is not affected.

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