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Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma Treatment

MD Anderson is committed to helping people with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma live longer, healthier lives – and we’re making great strides toward advanced therapies with less impact on your body.

For instance, we were instrumental in the pivotal clinical trial for Rituxan® (rituximab), one of the biggest developments in lymphoma treatment over the past decade. And we helped discover a way to vaccinate follicular lymphoma patients with proteins from their tumors, causing their immune systems to attack the cancer cells.

We have found the most successful way to treat indolent (slow-growing) Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma often is with highly focused chemotherapy that has less impact on your body. Instead of using intense chemotherapy in an attempt to cure non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma totally, the most successful approach often is to treat non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma so it goes into remission for extended periods.

Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Treatments

If you are diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, your doctor will discuss the best options to treat it. This depends on several factors, including:

  • Type of lymphoma
  • Stage and category of disease
  • Symptoms
  • Your age and general health

Your treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer will be customized to your particular needs. One or more of the following therapies may be recommended to treat the cancer or help relieve symptoms.


This is the treatment most often used for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. And since chemotherapy may lower certain types of blood cells, a transfusion of a type of drug called blood cell growth factors may be needed. Liposomal drug delivery is an advanced way of giving chemotherapy that may help it be more effective.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy may be used in early-stage lymphoma or to help symptoms such as pain. It is seldom the only treatment given.

Proton Therapy

The Proton Therapy Center at MD Anderson is one of the largest and most advanced centers in the world. It’s the only proton therapy facility in the country located within a comprehensive cancer center. This means this cutting-edge therapy is backed by all the expertise and compassionate care for which MD Anderson is famous.

Proton therapy delivers high radiation doses directly to the tumor site, with no damage to nearby healthy tissue. For some patients, this therapy results in better cancer control with fewer side effects.


Immunotherapy for Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma may include:

  • Monoclonal antibodies, including Rituxan®
  • Biological therapies that develop antibodies to help the body fight the cancer
  • Proteasome inhibitors, such as Velcade®
  • Immune modulators, such as thalidomide and lenalidomide, that modify the environment of the tumor cell and allow it to die
  • Targeted therapies that attack cancer cells by using small molecules to block pathways cells used to survive and multiply
  • Small molecule treatments such as panobinostat
  • Cytokine therapies
  • Interferon is made by the body to help fight infection. Sometimes interferon that has been made in the laboratory is given to patients with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Stem cell transplantation: If non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma does not respond to chemotherapy or if it returns, your doctor may recommend a stem cell transplant. Also, since chemotherapy often destroys healthy cells in the blood and bone marrow, patients who have certain types of chemotherapy may need stem cell transplants.

Radioimmunotherapy pairs a monoclonal antibody to a radioactive substance to target cancer cells.

Watchful waiting: This approach involves closely monitoring non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma without active treatment.

Clinical Trials

MD Anderson patients have access to clinical trials offering promising new treatments that cannot be found anywhere else.

Knowledge Center

Find the latest news and information about non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in our Knowledge Center, including blog posts, articles, videos, news releases and more.


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Prevention and Screening

Many cancers can be prevented with lifestyle changes and regular screening. 

Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma patient's cancer journey