Side effects and symptoms

Long term and late effects of treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma

Many people with Hodgkin lymphoma are treated successfully with chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Some people have side effects during treatment and for a few weeks after. Usually, these effects gradually reduce and eventually disappear.

But, some people may have side effects that continue months after treatment and that occasionally become permanent. Other people may develop late effects of treatment months or years later.

Not everyone has long-term or late effects and many effects get better over time. How likely you are to have problems depends on different factors, such as the type of treatment you’ve had.

Second cancer

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy can lead to a slightly increased risk of developing a second cancer later in life. However, current treatments are designed to limit these risks as much as possible.

Women under the age of 30 who have had radiotherapy to the chest area to treat Hodgkin lymphoma will be invited to have routine screening for breast cancer. This is because there is a slightly higher risk of getting breast cancer if you’ve had radiotherapy to this area.

The screening involves a physical examination and an x-ray of each breast (a mammogram). You may also have an MRI which shows the area in more detail. Your doctor or specialist nurse will tell you more about this screening programme if it applies to you.

References and thanks

The information in this section has been produced in accordance with the following sources and guidelines:

  • Greer, et al. Wintrobes Clinical Haematology. 12th edition. 2009. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
  • Leonard JP, Coleman M. Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. 2006. Springer.
  • DeVita, et al. Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 8th edition. 2008. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
  • Best practice in lymphoma diagnosis and reporting and specific disease appendix. 2010. British Committee for Standards in Haematology.

If you’d like further information on the sources we use, please feel free to contact us.


This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been approved by our medical editor, Dr Terry Priestman, Consultant Clinical Oncologist.

With thanks to: Dr Kirit Ardeshna, Consultant Haemato-Oncologist; Dr Ed Kanfer, Consultant Haematologist; Dr Robert Marcus, Consultant Haematologist; Janet O’Doherty, Haematology Clinical Nurse Specialist; Geri Davis, Clinical Nurse specialist in lymphoma; Dr D Gilson, Consultant Clinical Oncologist; Professor J Gribben, Consultant Haemotologist; Professor Graham Jackson, Consultant Haemato-Oncologist; and the people affected by cancer who reviewed this edition.

Thank you to all of the people affected by cancer who reviewed what you're reading and have helped our information to develop.

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