Steroid therapy for non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Steroids are often given with chemotherapy to treat lymphoma. They also help you feel better and can reduce feelings of sickness (nausea) caused by chemotherapy.

Steroids prescribed to treat lymphoma have nothing to do with the kind of steroids used by some bodybuilders. The steroid most commonly used to treat NHL is prednisolone.

Side effects

Steroids, as part of lymphoma treatment, are generally only given for short periods of time and usually have few side effects.

Possible side effects include:

  • indigestion
  • an increased appetite
  • increased energy or feeling restless
  • difficulty sleeping
  • having a higher level of sugar in the blood than usual.

Taking steroids with food can help reduce any indigestion. Your doctor may also prescribe medication to prevent it. You should always tell your doctor if you have stomach pains while taking steroids.

If you have difficulty sleeping, taking steroids in the morning with food may help.

Occasionally, steroids may cause an increase in your blood sugar level. During treatment you may have regular blood or urine tests to check this. Tell your doctor if you get very thirsty or if you’re passing more urine than usual.

Some people feel tired, have aches and pains, and feel a bit low in mood after finishing a course of steroids. This is due to their body adjusting to the changes in steroid levels and usually gets better within 2-3 days.

We have more information on steroid therapy and its effects.

Back to Supportive and other treatments explained

G-CSF

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

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.

Plasma exchange

Plasma exchange (sometimes called plasmapheresis) is a supportive treatment used for myeloma and a rare type of lymphoma called Waldenström's macroglobulinaemia.

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.