The aim of treatment for lymphoma is to destroy the lymphoma cells. However, treatment can also damage healthy cells, causing unwanted effects. These are called ‘side effects’.
Most people get side effects as part of their treatment, but they are usually temporary.
Tell your medical team if you have any side effects, even if they seem minor.
Unless you tell them, your medical team won’t know how you are feeling. There are effective treatments for many side effects. Your medical team can also give you advice to help you cope with side effects. This might include offering enhanced supportive care, an approach to help address the physical and psychological effects of living with lymphoma.
Our pages provide practical tips on dealing with specific side effects. This is not a complete list of the side effects you might have. There are many, less common side effects that we do not mention here. Our helpline services team may be able to direct you to more information. Please call them on 0800 808 5555.
Some of the more common side effects of lymphoma treatments are:
- Anaemia (low red blood cells or haemoglobin)
- Thrombocytopenia (low platelets)
- Neutropenia (low white blood cells)
- Risk of infection
- Nausea and vomiting
- Bowel problems
- ‘Chemo brain’
- Hair loss
- Peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage)
- Dry, sore and itchy skin
- Sore mouth (oral mucositis)
- Sleep problems
- Late effects
- Early menopause
- Reduced fertility.
Treatments for lymphoma affect everyone differently. It is difficult to predict how a treatment might affect you.
Each type of treatment or drug has a different set of possible side effects. You can find more information on the side effects you might experience with specific treatments on our treatment pages:
The dose and treatment schedule (how often you have the drug or treatment) and the combination of treatments you have also affect what side effects you might experience. Side effects also vary in how severe they are: some people have mild side effects while others have more troublesome effects. Even when side effects are listed as ‘common’, it doesn’t mean that everyone gets them.
Your doctor should talk to you about the possible side effects of any treatments they recommend.
It is important to tell your doctor about any medical conditions you have other than lymphoma. Some conditions mean you could have more serious side effects. You should also tell your doctor about any other treatments you are taking, including vitamins, herbal remedies and recreational drugs. Medicines can interact with each other, which might affect how they work. These interactions can also cause side effects.