skip to the content

What to expect

When you’ve been diagnosed with indolent non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), of course you’ll want to know what’s going to happen to you. At Lymphoma Life we can give you a good general picture of what people with indolent NHL usually experience. But you should bear in mind that everyone’s experience of NHL is unique and your haematologist or oncologist is the best person to talk to about your individual situation.

Key things to know

  • Your indolent non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) is slow growing and may not cause you any symptoms at first, or for quite a long time
  • If you have no symptoms you may not even need treatment immediately. This is known as the ‘watch and wait’ approach
  • Although NHL is now a part of your life, there may be long periods of time when you have no symptoms at all – this is known as remission
  • Patients with indolent NHL can often have a normal life expectancy and live successfully with the disease for many years
  • The aim of treatment for indolent NHL is to increase your symptom-free time and delay your next treatment for as long as possible, but there are attempts to cure the disease with newer, more aggressive regimens
 

Your indolent non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is slow growing and may not cause you any symptoms at first, or for quite a long time

 

Find out more…

  • This also means that indolent non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) can often remain undetected for some time.
  • In fact, indolent NHL is often discovered 'by accident', such as when a patient is visiting the doctor for some other reason altogether.
  • For example, the doctor may discover an enlarged lymph node during a routine physical examination. Or sometimes, an investigation – such as a blood test or a chest X-ray – may reveal something abnormal, which is then investigated and found to be due to NHL.
  • Because of this, indolent non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma has often spread beyond one or two groups of lymph nodes when it is first diagnosed. But even so, indolent NHL responds very well to treatment, and you can often be symptom-free for long periods of time.
  •  Some patients with indolent NHL do go to their doctor because of symptoms. The most common symptom is an enlarged lymph node, which is noticed as a lump, usually in the neck, armpit or groin. Patients at the time of diagnosis may also have any of the other symptoms of NHL.
 

Find out more about indolent NHL symptoms

If you have no symptoms, you may not even need treatment immediately. This is known as the ‘watch and wait’ approach

 

Find out more…

  • If you are not experiencing any symptoms when you are diagnosed and you have advanced-stage disease, it is usually better to wait until symptoms develop before you begin treatment.
  • This is not a ‘do nothing’ approach: you will be monitored regularly as an outpatient to keep a check on your status.
  • The advantage of this is that you will not need to cope with the potential side effects of treatment straight away, and the treatment can be saved for when your symptoms appear.
 

Although non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma  is now an ongoing part of your life, there may be long periods of time when you have no symptoms at all – this is known as remission

 

Find out more…

  • In indolent non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), a remission can usually be achieved with treatment. Typically, you could be disease-free for as long as 1.5-4 years, or even considerably longer. However, many people with indolent NHL relapse at some time in the future.
  • Some people with indolent NHL relapse with a different form of the disease, for example, with an aggressive form of lymphoma.
  • It is therefore very important that patients who have had treatment for indolent NHL should have regular check-ups and tests, as recommended by their doctor or specialist team, even if they are feeling perfectly well.
 

Patients with indolent non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma can often have a normal life expectancy and live successfully with the disease for many years

 

Find out more… 

  • Although it is not possible to predict in advance how you will respond to treatment, we know that about 70–90% of patients with advanced-stage indolent NHL have a remission after initial treatment.
  • People with indolent non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) typically live for between seven and ten years after diagnosis, but this might be considerably longer with newer therapies. Most patients with this form of the disease will experience relapses, despite having had treatment. The length of time between treatment and relapse can vary, but it is usually between 1.5 and 4 years.
 

The aim of treatment for indolent non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is to increase your symptom-free time and delay your next treatment for as long as possible, but there are attempts to cure the disease with newer, more aggressive regimens

 

Find out more…

  • Treatments are available for all types of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL). A complete cure is not always possible but, in the case of indolent NHL, it is usually possible to provide a remission or at least to shrink the lymphoma so that it does not cause symptoms.
  • Sometimes a remission, or symptom-free period, will last for many years.
  • The type of treatment used will depend on many things, including:
    • The type of NHL you have
    • The stage of NHL you have
    • Where your lymphoma is
    • Your general health and age


Find out more details about indolent NHL treatment

Back to top