Canadian Cancer Society logo

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

You are here: 

Watchful waiting for non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Watchful waiting may be a treatment option for some people with slow-growing (indolent) non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) who are otherwise healthy and the lymphoma is not causing symptoms or problems with other organs. Watchful waiting means the healthcare team watches the lymphoma closely. The person has regular checkups and follow-up with their doctor during this time. Treatment is given when the signs and symptoms of the lymphoma appear or change or the lymphoma looks like it is progressing.

Watchful waiting is not known to have negative effects or to reduce long-term survival. Giving treatment when there aren't any symptoms does not appear to be of additional benefit and does not prolong survival. It can be preferable to wait until symptoms appear and then start treatments at that time. This also spares the person with NHL from unnecessary side effects related to treatment for the longest time possible.

Watchful waiting is generally not an option for aggressive lymphomas.


Harold Johns His amazing career and legacy live on today, inspiring a new generation of scientists who are discovering new ways to harness the power of medical imaging to improve cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Read Harold's story

Celebrating cancer survivors at Relay For Life

Relay For Life illustration

For cancer survivors, the Canadian Cancer Society provides a unique opportunity to celebrate their courage in the fight against cancer. During hundreds of Relay For Life events across the country, thousands of survivors join together for the Survivors’ Victory Lap.

Learn more