One of the major ways of treating any form of cancer is through chemotherapy, which involves the use of drugs to kill the cancerous cells. It is administered orally or intravenously. There are a variety of chemotherapy drugs for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and they are given depending on the type of lymphoma one is diagnosed with and the stage. Thus, these drugs can be used to either cure cancer or control it hence preventing its spread. Alongside chemotherapy treatment, in some cases, it can be combined with other methods such as radiation or monoclonal targeted treatment. It is an ideal treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma because the affected lymphocyte cells (cancerous) can be killed easily.
What Are the Side Effects of Chemotherapy for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?
Although chemotherapy is meant to destroy cancerous cells, it can also affect normal healthy cells which cause side effects. Other than that, the side effects can be as a result of the type of drugs being used and their dosage as well. The possible side effects of chemotherapy for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma include;
- Hair thinning and hair loss
- Sores and ulcers in the mouth
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Low white blood cells count (neutropenia)
- Anemia due to low red blood cells count
- Increased risk of infections
- Low platelet count (thrombocytopenia)
- Skin that can easily be bruised and bleeding after minor injuries
- Increased allergic skin reactions including rashes
- Fatigue and soreness
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Change in taste
- Peripheral neuropathy which can include pain and numbness or tingling sensation in the arms, hands, and legs.
- Cognitive impairment referred to as chemo-brain that involves poor concentration and memory
- Heart problems including cardiotoxicity which is damage to the heart muscles
- Fertility issues in women such as early menopause
Managing Chemotherapy Side Effects for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
To ease the adverse effects of chemotherapy for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, your oncologist can prescribe antibiotics prior to the onset of the treatment to decrease the risk of infections. On top of that, your treatment drugs may include medication that stimulates the production of blood to counter low blood cell and platelet counts. Other supportive care options include; nutrition therapy, oncology rehabilitation therapy, pain management and spiritual as well as emotional support.
Chemotherapy is a treatment procedure that involves the use of two or more anti-cancer drugs to kill the cancerous cells. It is administered in a cycle whereby the patient is given the drugs over a few days, followed by a rest period. The cycle continues until the whole course of chemotherapy treatment is completed. The rest period is important so as to recover from the possible side effects of the drugs before starting the next cycle. The period over which chemotherapy treatment is administered to a patient depends on several factors. For example; the extent of the spread of cancer, the strength of the chemo drugs used as well as their toxicity, and the form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Chemotherapy cycles can last for weeks, months or years depending on the aim of the treatment – which can either be curing the cancer or preventing its spread.
Which Chemotherapy Drugs Are Used For Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?
Chemotherapy drugs for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma usually work by inhibiting the abnormal growth of the cancerous cells. As the drugs take effect, the cancer cells start to die off resulting in shrinking of the malignant tumors (lymphoma). The commonly used chemo drugs for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma include;
CHOP – a combination of four drugs namely Cyclophosphamide, Doxorubicin and Oncovin (Vincristine) as well as Prednisolone, which is a steroid.
CVP – a combination of Cyclophosphamide, Vincristine, and Prednisolone.
Alkylating Agents – Bendamustine, Ifosfamide, Chlorambucil, and Cyclophosphamide.
Anthracyclines – Liposomal doxorubicin and Doxorubicin.
Anti-metabolites – Methotrexate, Pralatrexate, and Cytarabine.
Corticosteroids – Dexamethasone and Prednisone.
Purine Analogs – Fludarabine, Pentostatin and Cladribine (2-CdA)
Platinum Drugs – Cisplatin, Oxaliplatin, and Carboplatin.
Chemotherapy works by killing cancerous lymphoma cells. The drugs prescribed by your oncologist are dependent on the extent of cancer, the form and the aim of the treatment. Like other medications, chemotherapy drugs can have countless side effects depending on the course of medicine used. Nevertheless, the medication can affect normal healthy cells, which aren’t the target of the treatment, thus having consequences on the general health of the body.
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