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