What are the long-term side effects of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma treatment?

Side effects of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma treatment can continue after treatment ends. And new symptoms can occur in the months and years after treatment.

Your risk of long-term side effects depends on your treatment:

  • Chemotherapy can cause heart problems, infertility, memory problems, fatigue and an increased risk of other types of cancer.
  • Radiation therapy may cause fatigue and skin changes that linger after treatment ends. Years after treatment you may have an increased risk of skin cancer and other cancers in the area that was treated, such as breast cancer or lung cancer if you received chest radiation.
  • Bone marrow transplant causes an increased risk of infection that may continue after your treatment ends. Later, people who undergo bone marrow transplant can experience an increased risk of developing another type of cancer, infertility, eye problems and lung problems.

Take control of your health after treatment so that you're ready to cope with any side effects that occur. For instance:

  • Ask your health care provider what to expect. Your health care provider can give you an idea of what to expect from the fatigue or other side effects you're experiencing after treatment and how long they may last. And based on your specific treatments, your health care provider can tell you what conditions you might be at risk of later in life.
  • Keep copies of your cancer treatment records. If you see a new health care provider, he or she will want to know what cancer treatments you had in order to better understand any new signs or symptoms you might develop.
  • Speak up about your symptoms. Don't assume that side effects that linger after your cancer treatment are just something you have to accept. Your health care provider may have strategies to relieve your symptoms, so be sure to tell him or her about what you're experiencing.
  • Take care of yourself. Making healthy choices can help with your recovery after treatment. Try to exercise most days of the week. Choose a healthy diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables. Don't smoke. If you choose to drink alcohol, limit yourself to no more than one drink a day if you're a woman of any age or a man age 65 or older, or no more than two drinks a day if you're a man under the age of 65.


Edward T. Creagan, M.D.

Follow on Twitter: @EdwardCreagan

Oct. 09, 2018 See more Expert Answers