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Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

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Potential side effects of surgery for non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Side effects can occur with any type of treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), but not everyone has them or experiences them in the same way. Side effects of surgery will depend mainly on the:

  • type and location of surgery
  • person's overall health

Side effects can happen any time during surgery. Some may happen during, immediately after or a few days or weeks after surgery. Most side effects go away after surgery. Late side effects can occur months or years after surgery. Some side effects may last a long time or be permanent.

It is important to report side effects to the healthcare team.


Pain often occurs after surgery because of trauma to the tissue during surgery. Pain-relieving medications are used to control pain. It may take time for pain to decrease after surgery, depending on the procedure done, how the person heals or how they tolerate pain. There is likely to be less pain when a lymph node biopsy is done compared to more extensive surgical procedures, such as a splenectomy or if tumours need to be removed.

If pain doesn’t go away or pain medications don’t relieve the pain, check with the doctor.

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Nausea and vomiting

Nausea and vomiting can occur especially if a general anesthesiaanesthesiaThe loss of some or all feeling or awareness. was used during surgery. Doctors will often give medications to prevent and control nausea and vomiting. Nausea and vomiting are usually temporary side effects and often go away a few days after surgery.

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Some people develop a wound infection after surgery. Infections can delay healing. Infection is not a common side effect, but can potentially occur after any type of surgery. Sometimes tubes are placed into the wound to drain excess fluid. Antibiotics may be used to help prevent or treat an infection. Wound infections are a temporary side effect of surgery.

After a splenectomy, people are at a higher risk of infection. Vaccinations are given before the spleen is removed and regularly scheduled vaccinations should be given after the spleen is removed to help prevent certain infections. People are often told to seek early medical attention for minor infections like a sore throat.

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Bleeding, or hemorrhage, can occur if a blood vessel is not sealed off during surgery, or if the person has a problem with blood clotting. Nursing staff frequently check bandages and drains for excessive bleeding right after surgery. If bleeding occurs and is severe enough, the surgeon may have to take the person back to the operating room to find where bleeding is coming from and to stop it.

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Not all of the general side effects related to surgery have been mentioned here. For more information, go to potential side effects of surgery.


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