Lymphoma - Non-Hodgkin: Late Effects of Treatment

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 12/2016

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about the late effects of treatment, which are side effects that can occur long after treatment for NHL has ended. To see other pages, use the menu.

People who have been treated for lymphoma have an increased risk of developing other diseases or conditions later in life. That’s because chemotherapy and radiation therapy can cause permanent damage to healthy parts of the body. Treatments have improved in the last 30 years, and now people who have received treatment for lymphoma recently are less likely to experience late effects. However, there is still some risk. Therefore, it is important for people to receive follow-up care to watch for the following late effects.

  • People who have received radiation therapy to the pelvis, high doses of cyclophosphamide, and high-dose chemotherapy for stem cell transplantation are at risk for infertility. Learn more about fertility concerns and preservation for men and women.

  • All survivors of NHL have a higher risk than the general population of developing a secondary cancer. This increased risk continues for up to 20 years after treatment. The most common secondary cancers include cancer of the lung, brain, kidney, or bladder; melanoma; Hodgkin lymphoma; or leukemia.

  • Women who received radiation therapy to the chest before age 35 have an increased risk of developing breast cancer.

  • Patients who have received doxorubicin-based chemotherapy or radiation treatment to the chest may be at higher risk for developing heart problems, such as valvular disease, pericarditis, and rhythm abnormalities.

  • Adults who have received chemotherapy, such as alkylating agents and methotrexate (multiple brand names), or radiation therapy to the chest area may be at risk for lung damage and shortness of breath later in life.

  • Patients who have received radiation therapy to the neck have an increased risk of having low levels of thyroid hormones later in life.

  • Patients who have received stem cell transplantation may be at higher risk for myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

Learn more about late effects of cancer treatment.

The next section in this guide is Follow-up Care. It explains the importance of checkups after cancer treatment is finished. Or, use the menu to choose another section to continue reading this guide.