Treatment for thyroid lymphoma depends on a number of factors including:
- the type of lymphoma
- its stage
- your general health.
You may have only one type of treatment or a combination of treatments.
Radiotherapy is the use of high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells, while causing as little harm as possible to the healthy cells.
For people who have slow-growing lymphoma that’s only in their thyroid, radiotherapy may be the only treatment they need. Treatment is given in the hospital radiotherapy department, usually from Monday to Friday, with a rest at the weekends. The length of your treatment will depend on the type and size of the cancer. Your doctor will explain how long your course of treatment might be.
Radiotherapy doesn’t make you radioactive and it’s perfectly safe for you to be with other people, including children, throughout your treatment.
Chemotherapy is the use of anti-cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to destroy cancer cells. It can be given as tablets or into a vein (intravenously).
You may be given just one type of chemotherapy drug or you may be given two or more chemotherapy drugs together (combination chemotherapy regimen).
Chemotherapy is often given with a drug called rituximab. Chemotherapy treatments for thyroid lymphoma include:
- CHOP, which includes the chemotherapy drugs cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin and vincristine, and the steroid prednisolone. You may also be given a monoclonal antibody drug called rituximab (Mabthera ®) in the combination (R-CHOP).
- CVP, which includes the chemotherapy drugs cyclophosphamide and vincristine and the steroid prednisolone. You may also be given the monoclonal antibody rituximab (R-CVP).
- The chemotherapy drug chlorambucil, which may be given with or without rituximab.
Monoclonal antibodies are drugs that recognise, target and stick to particular proteins on the surface of cancer cells, and can stimulate the body’s immune system to destroy the cells.
The monoclonal antibody most commonly used to treat thyroid lymphoma is rituximab (Mabthera ®). It’s usually given in combination with chemotherapy.
Steroids are drugs that may be used to help make chemotherapy more effective. They also help you feel better and can reduce feelings of sickness.
They're usually given as tablets, but may also be given as an injection into a vein (intravenously). Possible side effects of steroids include weight gain, restlessness, agitation and sleep disturbance. These are temporary and usually go away when treatment finishes.
Surgery to remove the thyroid isn't a common treatment for thyroid lymphoma. Research has shown that it does not increase the chance of curing thyroid lymphoma. It is occasionally done in people with slow-growing (indolent) lymphoma.
Thyroid hormone replacement
Often people who have been treated with radiotherapy or surgery will need thyroid hormone replacement treatment, as the thyroid becomes less active. This involves taking tablets to replace the hormones normally produced by the thyroid.