Watch and wait for Hodgkin lymphoma

Watch and wait means delaying treatment until it is needed. It is sometimes used for a type of Hodgkin lymphoma called NLPHL.

About watch and wait

If you have nodular lymphocyte predominant Hodgkin lymphoma (NLPHL), your doctor may suggest that you do not need to start treatment straight away.

Instead, you will have regular tests and appointments to monitor the lymphoma and check for signs that you need to start treatment. This is called watch and wait. It is a way of delaying treatment until it is needed.

Your doctor may suggest watch and wait if:

  • you had a small area of NLPHL that was completely removed by surgery or treated with radiotherapy
  • you have NLPHL that is not changing or causing any symptoms
  • you have NLPHL that has come back but you do not have any symptoms.

Sometimes people worry about delaying treatment. However, cancer treatments cause side effects. Some side effects may be long-term or start to affect your health years after treatment. Watch and wait means you can have treatment when it is needed and avoid the risk of side effects for as long as possible.

NLPHL often develops slowly and you may not need treatment for a long time. Watch and wait does not make your treatment less effective when you do need it.

Coping with watch and wait

If you are worried about delaying treatment, here are some helpful tips from people who have experienced watch and wait:

  • Make sure you understand why watch and wait is recommended and what other treatment options there may be. If you have any concerns, talk to your doctor.
  • Think of your time without treatment as an opportunity to make the most of your quality of life. Use it to do things you enjoy, and to get as fit and healthy as you can. We have more information about maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
  • Try to focus on the present rather than what might happen in the future.
  • Express your feelings – you can do this by talking to family and friends, joining a support group or online forum, or by keeping a journal.

Although watch and wait can be difficult to adjust to at first, many people find it gets easier as time goes on.

About our information

  • 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.