Medications for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Doctors at NYU Langoneā€™s Perlmutter Cancer Center use a variety of medications to treat people with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. These can include chemotherapy drugs, given either by mouth or by intravenous (IV) infusion, as well as new therapies that target the proteins on the surface of lymphocyte cells or the enzymes necessary for the cancer to function. At our state-of-the-art infusion center, family members can visit you in a private cubicle while you receive IV therapy.

Therapy for non-Hodgkin lymphoma can often cure or control the disease for long periods of time, preventing it from spreading and from causing symptoms. The absence of symptoms is called remission, and it can last for months or years.

Whether your doctor recommends treatment with one or a combination of medications depends on how fast the cancer is growing.


Chemotherapy drugs are used to kill cancer cells throughout the body. These medications may be given by mouth or through a vein in an IV infusion. The type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and the genetic features of the tumor tissue, determined at the time of diagnosis, help your doctors decide which chemotherapy drugs to use, as well as the length and number of treatment cycles. Often, our doctors give chemotherapy a few times each week in several cycles that last three or four weeks each.

For slow-growing non-Hodgkin lymphoma, our doctors recommend using less aggressive chemotherapy drugs to manage the cancer, whereas a combination may be needed for intermediate or aggressive cancer.

Targeted Therapies

New targeted therapies, for example, monoclonal antibody medications, are also used in the management of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. These medications are made with antibodies, the immune proteins that recognize substances as foreign and help remove them from the body. Monoclonal antibodies attach to proteins on the surface of non-Hodgkin lymphoma cells, interfering with their ability to function. Because monoclonal antibodies target cancer cells and not healthy tissue, they may cause fewer side effects than chemotherapy. They are usually given through an IV.

NYU Langone doctors also use other classes of medications that target non-Hodgkin lymphoma cells in different ways, for example, by blocking certain enzymes in cancer cells that are critical to their function.

Based on the molecular and genetic tests of tumor tissue, our doctors decide if you are a candidate for monoclonal antibody therapy or other targeted therapies. These medications may be given alone or in combination with a chemotherapy medication, if your doctor determines that you have a slow-growing form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. They may also be given in combination with several chemotherapy drugs for intermediate or aggressive cancer.

Clinical Trials

At NYU Langone, you have access to clinical trials and research studies designed to test the newest available therapies for non-Hodgkin lymphoma that does not respond to other treatments. Our researchers often study new monoclonal antibody therapies and other targeted therapies to deter cancer growth. These targeted therapies may be used in combination with chemotherapy.

Managing Side Effects

NYU Langoneā€™s Perlmutter Cancer Center is open seven days a week, and our hematologists, nurses, and pain management specialists are available to help in managing side effects as they arise during treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. This accessibility can help you to avoid trips to the emergency room, particularly on the weekend.

Some medications may cause mouth sores, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Our support services can also help you address any side effects you experience after treatment is finished.