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.
A clinical trial led by the Society’s NCIC Clinical Trials group found that men with prostate cancer who are treated with intermittent courses of hormone therapy live as long as those receiving continuous therapy.