Long-Term and Late Side Effects

Coping with Lymphoma

Long-Term and Late Side Effects

Typically, side effects from standard lymphoma treatment regimens, including chemotherapy, radiation, and steroids fall into two broad categories: long-term and late effects.  

Long-term side effects manifest during treatment and continue for months or several years after treatment and may include fatigue, menopausal symptoms, and cardiovascular problems.

Late effects on health develop many years, even decades, after treatment completion and may include infertility, osteoporosis, and secondary cancers.  Both the potential for developing late side effects and their level of severity depend on several factors, including when a patient was diagnosed and the type of treatment he or she received. 

The late effects of radiation therapy can take decades to manifest and include the risk for secondary cancers such as breast, thyroid, and lung cancer as well as heart disease.  Although advances in radiation therapy over the last three decades have led to reductions in the amount and field of radiation, the impact that these improvements may have in eliminating late effects in lymphoma survivors will not be known for years. 

Chemotherapy regimens such as CHOP, MOPP, and ABVD that include the alkylating agent cyclophosphamide, procarbazine, nitrogen mustard, and dacarbazine, and the anthracycline doxorubicin found in CHOP and ABVD are also linked to late health effects including infertility, gonadal dysfunction, a decrease in cardiac function, atherosclerosis (plaque builders up on the inside of the arteries), and secondary leukemia.

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