Targeted treatments and antibody therapies available for lymphoma

New targeted treatments and antibody therapies are being developed to treat lymphoma all the time. This information lists specific drugs that are currently approved to treat lymphoma, including who might have them, how to take them and their main side effects. We have separate information on how targeted treatments and antibody therapies work and on CAR T-cell therapy. We also have more information on the side effects of treatment, including tips on how to cope with them.

You may wish to use this information to look up a particular treatment, rather than reading the whole page.

On this page

Acalabrutinib

Bortezomib

Brentuximab vedotin

Duvelisib

Ibrutinib

Idelalisib

Lenalidomide

Mogamulizumab

Nivolumab

Obinutuzumab

Pembrolizumab

Polatuzumab vedotin

Rituximab

Tafasitamab

Venetoclax

Zanubrutinib


Acalabrutinib

Acalabrutinib is a type of targeted drug called a BTK inhibitor.

Who can have it?

Acalabrutinib is approved:

  • On its own for adults with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia or small lymphocytic lymphoma (CLL/SLL) who haven’t had treatment before if they have high-risk genetic mutations or if chemo-immunotherapy is not suitable for them.
  • Combined with obinutuzumab for adults with CLL/SLL who haven’t had treatment before. At present, it is not available on the NHS for this use.
  • On its own for adults with CLL/SLL that has come back or not responded to at least one previous course of treatment.

How do you have it?

Acalabrutinib is a capsule that you take by mouth twice a day. You carry on taking it unless your CLL/SLL gets worse or you develop side effects that are difficult to cope with.

What are the main side effects?

The most common side effects of acalabrutinib are:

Even when side effects are listed as ‘very common’, it only means that more than 1 in 10 people having the treatment get them. Many people do not get them. Side effects vary from person to person and it can be hard to predict how treatment might affect you.

If you experience any side effects, tell your medical team. They can often prescribe things to help, or give you advice on how to cope.

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Bortezomib

Bortezomib is a type of targeted drug called a proteasome inhibitor.

Who can have it?

Bortezomib is approved for adults with mantle cell lymphoma who haven’t been treated before and who can’t have a stem cell transplant. It is given with rituximab and a combination of chemotherapy drugs.

How do you have it?

You have bortezomib as an injection into a vein (intravenous injection) or just under your skin (subcutaneous injection). You usually have it twice a week for 2 weeks followed by a week off. This is a treatment cycle. Most people have up to 8 cycles.

What are the main side effects?

The most common side effects of bortezomib are:

Even when side effects are listed as ‘very common’, it only means that more than 1 in 10 people having the treatment get them. Many people do not get them. Side effects vary from person to person and it can be hard to predict how treatment might affect you.

If you experience any side effects, tell your medical team. They can often prescribe things to help, or give you advice on how to cope.

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Brentuximab vedotin

Brentuximab vedotin is a type of antibody therapy called an antibody–drug conjugate. It sticks to a protein called CD30.

Who can have it?

Brentuximab vedotin can only be used if your lymphoma cells make a protein called CD30. Cells from your biopsy sample might be tested for CD30 before you can have brentuximab vedotin.

Brentuximab vedotin is approved for:

  • Adults with stage 3 or stage 4 Hodgkin lymphoma who haven’t had treatment before. It is given with a combination of chemotherapy drugs. It is not currently available on the NHS for this use.
  • Adults with Hodgkin lymphoma that has come back or not responded after a stem cell transplant.
  • Adults with Hodgkin lymphoma who have a high risk of their lymphoma coming back or getting worse after a stem cell transplant. It is not currently available on the NHS for this use.
  • Adults with Hodgkin lymphoma who have had at least two previous courses of treatment and who can’t have a stem cell transplant or a combination of chemotherapy drugs.
  • Adults with systemic anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) who haven’t had treatment before. It is given with a combination of chemotherapy drugs.
  • Adults with systemic ALCL that has come back or not responded after previous treatment. It is given on its own. It is not currently available on the NHS in Scotland for this use but it is available in the other UK nations.
  • Adults with T-cell skin lymphoma who have already received at least one course of systemic (drug) treatment.

How do you have it?

You have brentuximab vedotin through a drip into a vein. You have it every 2 to 3 weeks for up to 16 cycles.

What are the main side effects?

The most common side effects of brentuximab vedotin are:

Even when side effects are listed as ‘very common’, it only means that more than 1 in 10 people having the treatment get them. Many people do not get them. Side effects vary from person to person and it can be hard to predict how treatment might affect you.

If you experience any side effects, tell your medical team. They can often prescribe things to help, or give you advice on how to cope.

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Duvelisib

Duvelisib is a type of targeted drug called a PI3K inhibitor.

Who can have it?

Duvelisib is approved:

  • On its own for adults with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia or small lymphocytic lymphoma (CLL or SLL) that has come back or not responded after at least two previous courses of treatment. It is not currently available on the NHS for this use.
  • On its own for adults with follicular lymphoma that has come back or not responded after at least two previous courses of treatment. It is not currently available on the NHS for this use.

How do you have it?

You have duvelisib as capsules that you take by mouth twice a day. You carry on taking it unless your lymphoma gets worse or you develop side effects that are difficult to cope with.

What are the main side effects?

The most common side effects of duvelisib are:

Even when side effects are listed as ‘very common’, it only means that more than 1 in 10 people having the treatment get them. Many people do not get them. Side effects vary from person to person and it can be hard to predict how treatment might affect you.

If you experience any side effects, tell your medical team. They can often prescribe things to help, or give you advice on how to cope.

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Ibrutinib

Ibrutinib is a type of targeted drug called a BTK inhibitor.

Who can have it?

Ibrutinib is approved:

  • On its own for adults with mantle cell lymphoma that has come back or not responded after one previous course of treatment. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it has also been available (on its own or combined with rituximab) for people with mantle cell lymphoma who have not had treatment before.
  • On its own for adults with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia or small lymphocytic lymphoma (CLL or SLL) who haven’t had treatment before and who have high-risk genetic mutations.
  • Combined with rituximab or obinutuzumab for adults with CLL/SLL who haven’t had treatment before. At present, it is not available on the NHS for this use.
  • On its own for adults with CLL/SLL who have had at least one previous course of treatment.
  • Combined with rituximab and chemotherapy for adults with CLL/SLL who have had at least one previous course of treatment. At present, it is not available on the NHS for this use.
  • On its own for adults with Waldenström’s macroglobulinaemia (WM) who have had one previous course of treatment.
  • On its own for adults with WM who can’t have chemo-immunotherapy. At present, it is not available on the NHS for this use.
  • Combined with rituximab for adults with WM. At present, it is available on the NHS in Scotland for this use in people who have had at least one previous course of treatment only. It is not currently available on the NHS for this use in other UK nations.

How do you have it?

You have ibrutinib as tablets that you take by mouth once a day. You carry on taking it unless your lymphoma gets worse or you develop side effects that are difficult to cope with.

What are the main side effects?

The most common side effects of acalabrutinib are:

Even when side effects are listed as ‘very common’, it only means that more than 1 in 10 people having the treatment get them. Many people do not get them. Side effects vary from person to person and it can be hard to predict how treatment might affect you.

If you experience any side effects, tell your medical team. They can often prescribe things to help, or give you advice on how to cope.

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Idelalisib

Idelalisib is a type of targeted drug called a PI3K inhibitor.

Who can have it?

Idelalisib is approved:

  • Combined with rituximab for adults with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia or small lymphocytic lymphoma (CLL or SLL) who haven’t had treatment before, have high-risk genetic mutations and can’t have any other treatments.
  • Combined with rituximab for adults with CLL/SLL that has come back or not responded within 24 months of a previous course of treatment. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, it is available on the NHS for this use only if CLL/SLL came back within 24 months of a previous course of treatment. In Scotland, it is available on the NHS for this use only for people who can’t have chemo-immunotherapy.
  • On its own for adults with follicular lymphoma that has come back or not responded after at least two previous courses of treatment. It is available on the NHS in Scotland for this use. It is not currently available on the NHS for this use in other UK nations.

How do you have it?

You have idelalisib as tablets that you take by mouth twice a day. You carry on taking it unless your lymphoma gets worse or you develop side effects that are difficult to cope with.

What are the main side effects?

The most common side effects of idelalisib are:

  • infections
  • increased levels of lymphocytes in your blood (lymphocytosis) – although this does not normally cause any problems
  • low neutrophil count (neutropenia)
  • diarrhoea
  • skin rash
  • fever
  • changes in your liver function (found on blood tests).

Even when side effects are listed as ‘very common’, it only means that more than 1 in 10 people having the treatment get them. Many people do not get them. Side effects vary from person to person and it can be hard to predict how treatment might affect you.

If you experience any side effects, tell your medical team. They can often prescribe things to help, or give you advice on how to cope.

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Lenalidomide

Lenalidomide is a type of targeted drug called an immunomodulator.

Who can have it?

Lenalidomide is approved:

  • With rituximab for adults with follicular lymphoma that has come back or not responded after previous treatment.
  • On its own for adults with mantle cell lymphoma that has come back or not responded after previous treatment. It is not currently available on the NHS for this use.

How do you have it?

You have lenalidomide as tablets that you take once a day for 21 days, followed by 7 days without treatment in each 28-day cycle. You usually have up to 12 cycles of treatment.

What are the main side effects?

The most common side effects of lenalidomide are:

Even when side effects are listed as ‘very common’, it only means that more than 1 in 10 people having the treatment get them. Many people do not get them. Side effects vary from person to person and it can be hard to predict how treatment might affect you.

If you experience any side effects, tell your medical team. They can often prescribe things to help, or give you advice on how to cope.

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Mogamulizumab

Mogamulizumab is a monoclonal antibody therapy that sticks to a protein called CCR4.

Who can have it?

Mogamulizumab is approved for adults with skin lymphomas called mycosis fungoides or Sézary syndrome who have had at least one previous course of systemic (whole body) treatment. It is currently available on the NHS in Scotland only for people who can’t have, or have not responded to, treatment with brentuximab vedotin. At present, it is not available on the NHS in other UK nations but this is under review.

How do you have it?

You have mogamulizumab through a drip into a vein. You have it every week at first, and then every 2 weeks. You carry on having it unless your lymphoma gets worse or you develop side effects that are difficult to cope with.

What are the main side effects?

The most common side effects of mogamulizumab are:

Even when side effects are listed as ‘very common’, it only means that more than 1 in 10 people having the treatment get them. Many people do not get them. Side effects vary from person to person and it can be hard to predict how treatment might affect you.

If you experience any side effects, tell your medical team. They can often prescribe things to help, or give you advice on how to cope.

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Nivolumab

Nivolumab is a type of targeted drug called a checkpoint inhibitor.

Who can have it?

Nivolumab is approved for adults with Hodgkin lymphoma that has come back or not responded after a stem cell transplant and a course of brentuximab vedotin.

How do you have it?

You have nivolumab through a drip into a vein every 2 weeks. You carry on having it unless your lymphoma gets worse or you develop side effects that are difficult to cope with.

What are the main side effects?

The most common side effects of nivolumab are:

Even when side effects are listed as ‘very common’, it only means that more than 1 in 10 people having the treatment get them. Many people do not get them. Side effects vary from person to person and it can be hard to predict how treatment might affect you.

If you experience any side effects, tell your medical team. They can often prescribe things to help, or give you advice on how to cope.

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Obinutuzumab

Obinutuzumab is a monoclonal antibody therapy that sticks to a protein called CD20.

Who can have it?

Obinutuzumab is approved:

  • Combined with an oral chemotherapy drug called chlorambucil for adults with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia or small lymphocytic lymphoma (CLL or SLL) who haven’t had treatment before and who can’t have standard doses of chemotherapy.
  • Combined with a targeted drug called venetoclax for adults with CLL/SLL who have not been treated before. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, this combination is currently only available on the NHS for adults with CLL/SLL with genetic changes that mean they’re at high risk of relapse, or adults without high-risk genetic changes who can’t have chemo-immunotherapy. In England it is available through the Cancer Drugs Fund for adults with CLL who have not been treated before regardless of genetic changes or suitability for other treatments.
  • Combined with chemotherapy for adults with advanced follicular lymphoma who haven’t had treatment before. It is not currently available on the NHS in Scotland for this use but it is available in the other UK nations.
  • Combined with a chemotherapy drug called bendamustine for adults with follicular lymphoma that has come back or not responded within 6 months of treatment that included rituximab.
  • On its own as maintenance therapy for adults with follicular lymphoma who responded to treatment.

How do you have it?

You have obinutuzumab through a drip into a vein. You have pre-medication first, to help prevent any reactions to the medicine.

You usually have obinutuzumab once every 3 or 4 weeks. You might have it more frequently during your first month of treatment. You have 6 to 8 cycles of treatment.

People with follicular lymphoma might have obinutuzumab maintenance therapy after finishing their course of treatment, to help their remission last as long as possible.

What are the main side effects?

The most common side effects of obinutuzumab are:

Even when side effects are listed as ‘very common’, it only means that more than 1 in 10 people having the treatment get them. Many people do not get them. Side effects vary from person to person and it can be hard to predict how treatment might affect you.

If you experience any side effects, tell your medical team. They can often prescribe things to help, or give you advice on how to cope.

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Pembrolizumab

Pembrolizumab is a type of targeted drug called a checkpoint inhibitor.

Who can have it?

Pembrolizumab is approved for adults and children over 3 who have Hodgkin lymphoma that has come back or not responded after a stem cell transplant, or after two previous courses of treatment for people who aren’t suitable for a stem cell transplant. On the NHS in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, it is currently limited to adults with Hodgkin lymphoma who have had previous treatment with brentuximab vedotin and who can’t have a stem cell transplant. In Scotland, it is also available on the NHS for adults with relapsed or refractory Hodgkin lymphoma who have already had both a stem cell transplant and brentuximab vedotin.

How do you have it?

You have pembrolizumab through a drip into a vein every 3 to 6 weeks. You carry on having it unless your lymphoma gets worse or you develop side effects that are difficult to cope with. At present, if you are having pembrolizumab on the NHS, you can have treatment for up to 2 years.

What are the main side effects?

The most common side effects of pembrolizumab are:

Even when side effects are listed as ‘very common’, it only means that more than 1 in 10 people having the treatment get them. Many people do not get them. Side effects vary from person to person and it can be hard to predict how treatment might affect you.

If you experience any side effects, tell your medical team. They can often prescribe things to help, or give you advice on how to cope.

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Polatuzumab vedotin

Polatuzumab vedotin is a type of antibody therapy called an antibody–drug conjugate. It sticks to a protein called CD79b.

Who can have it?

Polatuzumab vedotin is approved for adults with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) that has come back or not responded to previous treatment and who can’t have a stem cell transplant. It is given with rituximab and a chemotherapy drug called bendamustine.

How do you have it?

You have polatuzumab vedotin through a drip into a vein once every 21 days. You have pre-medication first, to help prevent any reactions to the medicine. You have up to six cycles of treatment.

What are the main side effects?

The most common side effects of polatuzumab vedotin are:

Even when side effects are listed as ‘very common’, it only means that more than 1 in 10 people having the treatment get them. Many people do not get them. Side effects vary from person to person and it can be hard to predict how treatment might affect you.

If you experience any side effects, tell your medical team. They can often prescribe things to help, or give you advice on how to cope.

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Rituximab

Rituximab is a monoclonal antibody therapy that sticks to a protein called CD20.

Who can have it?

Rituximab is approved:

It is also widely used to treat other types of B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma and nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma (NLPHL).

How do you have it?

You have rituximab through a drip into a vein (intravenously) or as an injection just underneath your skin (subcutaneously). You have pre-medication first, to help prevent any reactions to the medicine. You have your first dose very slowly, so your medical team can check for any reactions.

You usually have rituximab once every 3 or 4 weeks, although this varies depending on the type of lymphoma you have and any chemotherapy drugs you are having (if any). Most people have up to 8 cycles of treatment.

If you are having rituximab as maintenance therapy for follicular lymphoma, you have it once every 2 to 3 months for up to 2 years. If you are having rituximab as maintenance therapy for mantle cell lymphoma, you have it once every 2 months for 3 years or more.

What are the main side effects?

The most common side effects of rituximab are:

Even when side effects are listed as ‘very common’, it only means that more than 1 in 10 people having the treatment get them. Many people do not get them. Side effects vary from person to person and it can be hard to predict how treatment might affect you.

If you experience any side effects, tell your medical team. They can often prescribe things to help, or give you advice on how to cope.

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Tafasitamab

Tafasitamab is a monoclonal antibody therapy that sticks to a protein called CD19.

Who can have it?

Tafasitamab is approved for adults with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) that has come back or not responded to previous treatment and who can’t have a stem cell transplant. It is given in combination with lenalidomide at first, and then on its own. At present, it is not available on the NHS for this use.

How do you have it?

You have tafasitamab through a drip into a vein. You have pre-medication first, to help prevent any reactions to the medicine.

You have two doses in the first week followed by one dose a week for the next 7 weeks. You then have it once every 2 weeks. You carry on having it unless your lymphoma gets worse or you develop side effects that are difficult to cope with.

For the first 12 months of treatment, you have it combined with lenalidomide.

What are the main side effects?

The most common side effects of tafasitamab are:

Even when side effects are listed as ‘very common’, it only means that more than 1 in 10 people having the treatment get them. Many people do not get them. Side effects vary from person to person and it can be hard to predict how treatment might affect you.

If you experience any side effects, tell your medical team. They can often prescribe things to help, or give you advice on how to cope.

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Venetoclax

Venetoclax is a type of targeted drug called a BCL-2 inhibitor.

Who can have it?

Venetoclax is approved:

  • Combined with obinutuzumab for adults with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia or small lymphocytic lymphoma (CLL/SLL) who have not been treated before. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, this combination is currently only available on the NHS for adults with CLL/SLL with genetic changes that mean they’re at high risk of relapse, or adults without high-risk genetic changes who can’t have chemo-immunotherapy. In England it is available through the Cancer Drugs Fund for adults with CLL who have not been treated before regardless of genetic changes or suitability for other treatments.
  • Combined with rituximab for adults with CLL/SLL who have had at least one previous course of treatment.
  • On its own for adults with CLL/SLL with genetic changes that mean they’re at high risk of relapse and who either can’t have treatment with a B-cell receptor inhibitor, or whose CLL/SLL has not responded to B-cell receptor inhibitor treatment.
  • On its own for adults with CLL/SLL that has come back after treatment with chemo-immunotherapy (chemotherapy combined with antibody therapy) and a B-cell receptor pathway inhibitor.

How do you have it?

You have venetoclax as tablets that you take by mouth once a day. If you’re having it on its own, you carry on taking it unless your lymphoma gets worse or you develop side effects that are difficult to cope with. If you’re having it with rituximab or obinutuzumab, you usually carry on taking it for 1 to 2 years.

What are the main side effects?

The most common side effects of venetoclax are:

Even when side effects are listed as ‘very common’, it only means that more than 1 in 10 people having the treatment get them. Many people do not get them. Side effects vary from person to person and it can be hard to predict how treatment might affect you.

If you experience any side effects, tell your medical team. They can often prescribe things to help, or give you advice on how to cope.

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Zanubrutinib

Zanubrutinib is a type of targeted drug called a BTK inhibitor.

Who can have it?

Zanubrutinib is approved:

  • On its own for adults with Waldenström’s macroglobulinaemia (WM) that has come back or not responded after at least one previous course of treatment. At present, it is not available on the NHS for this use.
  • On its own for adults with WM who have not had treatment before and who can’t have chemo-immunotherapy. At present, it is not available on the NHS for this use.

How do you have it?

Zanubrutinib is a capsule that you take by mouth twice a day. You carry on taking it unless your lymphoma gets worse or you develop side effects that are difficult to cope with.

What are the main side effects?

The most common side effects of zanubrutinib are:

Even when side effects are listed as ‘very common’, it only means that more than 1 in 10 people having the treatment get them. Many people do not get them. Side effects vary from person to person and it can be hard to predict how treatment might affect you.

If you experience any side effects, tell your medical team. They can often prescribe things to help, or give you advice on how to cope.

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Further reading