Treating non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) can be challenging, and so can understanding your treatment options. For indolent (slow-growing) types of NHL, doctors may recommend watchful waiting rather than starting treatment right away. For those with chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma (CLL/SLL), mantle cell lymphoma (MCL), marginal zone lymphoma (MZL), and Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia (WM), there are several new drugs that have gained approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in recent years. Whether you are actively treating your indolent NHL or are still on “watch and wait,” it’s a good time to start a discussion with your doctor about your choices.
Traditional chemotherapy, administered intravenously (by IV) at a cancer treatment center, works by attacking all rapidly growing cells in the body. A newer category of NHL treatment is known as targeted therapy because these drugs target specific proteins on or in cancer cells. All cancer treatments cause side effects, but targeted therapies tend to cause fewer side effects and be more effective than older treatments. Many of the newer targeted therapies are oral and can be taken by mouth at home as a pill or capsule.
If you would like to learn more about oral targeted therapies and whether they may be a good option to treat your indolent NHL, you can use this doctor discussion guide to start a conversation with your health care provider.
Your doctor will explain the risks and benefits of each treatment option and make recommendations, but the decision about how to treat your NHL is ultimately up to you. The best treatment plan is the one you and your doctor agree on after discussing your goals for treatment.