Chemotherapy regimens for lymphoma

This information page is about chemotherapy regimens (combinations of drugs) for lymphoma. We have separate information about chemotherapy, including how it works, how it is given and its possible side effects.

On this page

What is a chemotherapy regimen?

Common chemotherapy regimens for lymphoma

Which chemotherapy regimen might I have?

Side effects of chemotherapy regimens

What is a chemotherapy regimen?

A regimen is a plan of treatment that involves drugs such as chemotherapy. A regimen specifies:

  • the name of the drug or drugs you will have
  • the dose of each drug
  • how often you take them
  • how long you take each drug for.

Most regimens are given as a block of chemotherapy followed by a rest period to allow your body to recover. This is known as a ‘cycle’. Your medical team will talk to you about how many treatment cycles you need.

Many chemotherapy regimens include a combination of drugs. Each drug works in a slightly different way to kill the lymphoma cells. Together, the drugs can kill more of the lymphoma.

Some chemotherapy drugs may be given on their own (for example pixantrone and bendamustine), especially if the aim of treatment is to control symptoms of lymphoma.

Chemotherapy drugs are sometimes given with a different type of drug, such as an antibody therapy like rituximab, a targeted drug like ibrutinib, or a steroid such as prednisolone.

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Common chemotherapy regimens for lymphoma

On this page we list the most common chemotherapy regimens for lymphoma.

The names of chemotherapy regimens are usually acronyms made up of the first letters of each of the drugs they contain. Sometimes, to make them easier to say, a regimen uses a drug’s ‘trade’ or brand name (the name the pharmaceutical company gives the drug). Trade names start with a capital letter and are sometimes followed by a registered trademark (®).

Some chemotherapy regimens aren’t referred to by acronyms. These include bendamustine and chlorambucil, which may be used in combination with rituximab to treat certain types of lymphoma.

Antibody therapies, such as rituximab, or targeted drugs, such as ibrutinib, are sometimes given on their own or with chemotherapy for some types of lymphoma. When rituximab is added to a chemotherapy regimen, an ‘R’ is added to the name – for example R-CHOP, R-ICE, R-CVP and R-bendamustine. Rituximab is usually used only for B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas.

Acronyms for chemotherapy regimens sometimes used to treat lymphoma

ABVD – doxorubicin (Adriamycin®), bleomycin, vinblastine and dacarbazine

BEACOPPbleomycin, etoposide, doxorubicin (Adriamycin®), cyclophosphamide, vincristine (Oncovin®), procarbazine and prednisolone; a higher-dose regimen is sometimes called BEACOPPesc (escalated dose)

BEAM – carmustine (BiCNU®), etoposide, cytarabine (Ara-C) and melphalan

CHEOPcyclophosmamide, doxorubicin (or hydroxydaunorubicin), etoposide, vincristine (Oncovin®) and prednisolone

ChlVPPchlorambucil, vinblastine, procarbazine and prednisolone

CHOPcyclophosphamide, doxorubicin (or hydroxydaunorubicin), vincristine (Oncovin®) and prednisolone

CHVPicyclophosphamide, doxorubicin (or hydroxydaunorubicin), etoposide (Vepesid®), prednisolone and interferon-alpha

CODOX-Mcyclophosphamide, vincristine (Oncovin®), doxorubicin and methotrexate

CVPcyclophosphamide, vincristine and prednisolone

DA-EPOCHdose-adjusted etoposide, prednisolone, vincristine (Oncovin®), cyclophosphamide and doxorubicin (or hydroxydaunorubicin)

DHAPdexamethasone, high-dose cytarabine (Ara-C) and cisplatin (Platinol®)

ESHAPetoposide, methylprednisolone (Solu-Medrone®), high-dose cytarabine (Ara-C) and cisplatin (Platinol®)

FCfludarabine and cyclophosphamide

GCVPgemcitabine, cyclophosphamide, vincristine and prednisolone

GDPgemcitabine, dexamethasone and cisplatin (Platinol®)

GEMOXgemcitabine and oxaliplatin

GEM-Pgemcitabine, cisplatin and methylprednisolone

Hyper-CVADcyclophosphamide, vincristine, doxorubicin (Adriamycin®) and dexamethasone; ’hyper’ is short for ‘hyperfractionated’, which means that you have the same drug more than once in a day 

ICEifosfamide, carboplatin and etoposide

IGEVifosfamide, gemcitabine and vinorelbine

IVACifosfamide, etoposide (VP-16) and cytarabine (Ara-C)

Maxi-CHOPmaximum dose cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin (or hydroxydaunorubicin), vincristine (Oncovin®) and prednisolone 

MCPmitoxantrone, chlorambucil and prednisolone

P-MitCEBOprednisolone, mitoxantrone, cyclophosphamide, etoposide, bleomycin and vincristine (Oncovin®)

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Which chemotherapy regimen might I have?

The exact regimen you have depends on a number of factors including:

  • the type of lymphoma you have
  • how quickly the lymphoma is growing – whether it’s fast-growing (high-grade) or slow-growing (low-grade)
  • where in your body the lymphoma is
  • the symptoms or problems that your lymphoma is causing
  • whether you have previously had other treatments for lymphoma
  • if you have any other health conditions or you are taking any other medicines
  • your age, general health and fitness.

Your medical team will talk to you about the best treatment for you based on your individual circumstances.

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Side effects of chemotherapy regimens

Treatment affects each person differently. Your doctor, clinical nurse specialist or chemotherapy nurse should speak to you about any side effects and late effects you might expect from your chemotherapy regimen. 

Macmillan Cancer Support has an online tool where you can search for a chemotherapy regimen and find out more about it, including its possible side effects.

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Further reading

Related content

Macmillan Cancer Support

Macmillan Cancer Support has an online tool where you can search for a chemotherapy regimen and find out more about it.

Bloodwise

Bloodwise funds research into all types of blood cancer and supports anyone worried about blood cancer with expert information and advice.