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Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

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Watchful waiting for non-Hodgkin lymphoma

If you have non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) but don’t have any symptoms or only mild symptoms, you may be offered watchful waiting (also called active surveillance). This means that your healthcare team watches your cancer closely rather than giving treatment right away. They will use tests and exams to check if the NHL is progressing or your condition is getting worse. Treatment is given when you develop symptoms or the cancer changes.

This approach helps avoid problems or side effects that can happen with treatments such as surgery or radiation therapy. There is no evidence that watchful waiting reduces long-term survival or has other negative effects if or when you start treatment.

You may be offered watchful waiting if:

  • you have a slow-growing (indolent) type of NHL
  • you have good overall health
  • the NHL isn’t causing problems with your organs

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