Steroid therapy for lymphoma

You may be given steroids alongside chemotherapy to treat lymphoma. They may help you to feel better and feel less sick during chemotherapy.

What are steroids?

Steroids are drugs that are often given with chemotherapy to help treat lymphoma. They may also help you feel better and feel less sick during chemotherapy. The steroids most commonly used to treat lymphoma are called prednisolone and dexamethaone.

Side effects of steroids

Your treatment for lymphoma may involve taking steroids for a few days at a time during every cycle of chemotherapy.

Possible side effects include:

Tell your doctor if you have any side effects that are causing you trouble.

If you have indigestion, it can help to take your steroids with food. Your doctor may also prescribe drugs to prevent indigestion. Tell your doctor if you have stomach pains while taking steroids.

Taking your steroids in the morning may help reduce sleeping problems.

Sometimes, steroids may cause a temporary increase in your blood sugar level. You may have regular blood or urine tests to check this. During treatment, tell your doctor if you get very thirsty or if you are passing more urine than usual. If you have diabetes, tell your doctor before you start taking steroids.

Side effects usually get better when you finish taking steroids. But some people feel tired, have aches and pains, or have low moods when they stop taking them. This usually gets better within 2 to 3 days as your body adjusts to the change in steroid levels.

About our information

  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) references

    Below is a sample of the sources used in our non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) information. If you would like more information about the sources we use, please contact us at

    National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Guideline NG46. Haematological cancers: improving outcomes. 2016.

    National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Guideline NG52. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma: diagnosis and management. 2016.

    Treleaven, et al. Guidelines on the use of irradiated blood components prepared by the British Committee for Standards in Haematology blood transfusion task force. British Journal of Haematology. 2011.

  • Reviewers

    This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by expert medical and health professionals and people living with cancer. It has been approved by Senior Medical Editors, Dr Anne Parker, Consultant Haematologist; and Professor Rajnish Gupta, Macmillan Consultant Medical Oncologist.

    Our cancer information has been awarded the PIF TICK. Created by the Patient Information Forum, this quality mark shows we meet PIF’s 10 criteria for trustworthy health information.