Chemotherapy for Hodgkin lymphoma

Chemotherapy is the use of anti-cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to destroy the lymphoma cells. Cytotoxic means toxic to cells. These drugs disrupt the way cancer cells grow and divide but they also affect normal cells.

You may have chemotherapy drugs as tablets or capsules, or by injection into a vein (intravenously) in your arm . The drugs are carried in the blood so they reach lymphoma cells anywhere in the body.

We have more information on the ways in which chemotherapy can be given.

You usually have a combination of several drugs. You will have treatment over a few days and this is followed by a break of a few weeks. This allows your body and blood cells to recover from any side effects before the next treatment. The treatment and break is known as a cycle of treatment.

Your treatment will usually last 2–6 months, depending on the stage of your lymphoma. During this time you’ll have regular check-ups.

You’ll usually have your treatment as an outpatient, but occasionally you may need to stay in hospital for a few days.

The combinations of drugs most commonly used for Hodgkin lymphoma include the following:

Other drugs, or combinations of drugs, may also be used.

Steroids are often used together with chemotherapy drugs to treat Hodgkin lymphoma.

Back to Chemotherapy explained

Your feelings

You may experience difficult feelings while having chemotherapy treatment. Talking these over can be helpful.

Who might I meet?

A team of medical specialists will be involved throughout the course of your chemotherapy treatment.