Steroid therapy for Hodgkin lymphoma

Steroids, such as prednisolone or dexamethasone, are drugs that are often given with chemotherapy to help treat Hodgkin lymphoma. They may also help you feel better and reduce nausea.

Side effects

Steroids for Hodgkin lymphoma are generally given only for a few months and so usually have few side effects. The effects that you may notice include:

  • an increased appetite
  • feeling more energetic
  • difficulty getting to sleep.

Whenever possible, it’s better to take steroids early in the day so they don’t disrupt your sleep too much.

It’s unusual for people with Hodgkin lymphoma to have to take steroids for a long time, but if you do, you may have some other temporary side effects, which can include:

  • puffiness of the eyelids, hands, fingers and feet
  • indigestion
  • raised blood pressure
  • weight gain
  • a slightly greater risk of getting infections.

You may also develop an increased level of sugar in the blood. If this happens, your doctor will prescribe drugs that need to be taken daily to bring your blood sugar level back to normal. You may have to do a simple daily test to check for sugar in your urine. Your nurses will show you how to do this yourself.

It’s important to remember that these side effects are temporary and will gradually disappear as the steroid dose is reduced.

You should carry a card with you stating that you are taking steroids. The pharmacy or staff at the hospital will give you the card when they give you your steroids.

Our section on steroids gives more information about these drugs and their possible side effects.

Back to Supportive and other treatments explained

Blood transfusions

Some cancers or cancer treatments can cause anaemia, which is a low number of red blood cells. Blood transfusions are used to treat anaemia.


Having chemotherapy can make you more prone to infections. G-CSF helps you make more white blood cells to reduce that risk.

Platelet transfusions

Platelets are cells that help to stop bleeding. Some cancers or cancer treatments can lead to low platelets and you may need a platelet transfusion.