Treatment overview for Hodgkin lymphoma

The main treatments for Hodgkin lymphoma are chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Some people only need one of these treatments. Others have both.

Your treatment may depend on:

  • the type of Hodgkin lymphoma you have
  • the stage of your Hodgkin lymphoma
  • your age and general health
  • which parts of your body are affected
  • the results of your blood tests.

If you have nodular lymphocyte predominant Hodgkin lymphoma (NLPHL), you may not need treatment straight away. Instead you may have regular tests and appointments to monitor the lymphoma (called watch and wait). NLPHL may also be treated with a targeted therapy such as rituximab.

Rarely, NLPHL can change into a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. If this happens, you will have treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma instead.

If lymphoma comes back or there are still signs of it after treatment, some people will need further treatment.

Treatment overview

The main treatments for Hodgkin lymphoma are chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The treatment you have will depend on:

  • the type of Hodgkin lymphoma you have
  • the stage of your Hodgkin lymphoma
  • your age and general health
  • which parts of your body are affected
  • the results of your blood tests.


Treating classical Hodgkin lymphoma

If you have early-stage classical Hodgkin lymphoma, you will usually be treated with chemotherapy followed by radiotherapy. If the lymphoma is more advanced, chemotherapy is usually the main treatment but you may also have radiotherapy.

Most people won’t need any further treatment to get rid of the lymphoma. However, sometimes lymphoma comes back or there may still be signs of it after treatment. You might need more treatment if this happens. We have more information about treating Hodgkin lymphoma that comes back.


Treating NLPHL

If you have nodular lymphocyte predominant Hodgkin lymphoma (NLPHL), your doctor may suggest that you delay having treatment. Instead you will have regular tests and appointments to monitor the lymphoma. This is called watch and wait.

If you start treatment, you may have radiotherapy or chemotherapy to treat NLPHL. Some people have both treatments. Other people will have a targeted therapy such as rituximab. This is a common treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

NLPHL may come back, sometimes after a long period of time, and can be treated again with chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Rarely, NLPHL can change into a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. If this happens, you will have treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma instead. We have more information about treatments for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Back to Treating

Making treatment decisions

Your doctors may tell you there are different options for your treatment. It can be difficult to make a decision, but information and support will help.

Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy targets lymphoma cells in a specific area of the body. It’s usually given after chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy uses drugs to treat cancer. It can be given in different ways and will be carefully planned.

Watch and wait

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

Supportive and other treatments

These treatments aren't to treat the cancer itself. But they can help make other treatments more effective or help you to feel better.

After treatment

After treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma, you’ll have regular check-ups.

Clinical trials

Many people are offered a trial as part of treatment. Find out more to help you decide if a trial is right for you.