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Side effects of treatment

All cancer treatments and other medicines that may be needed alongside therapy can cause side effects. Side effects from cancer treatment can range from being mild to uncomfortable. Some side effects can occur immediately, some in the days after treatment and some weeks, months or even years after treatment. All treatments for cancer have risks or side effects. Patients may experience one, some or none of these side effects.

The healthcare team should educate all patients about what side effects can happen with the treatment that is being given. Patients should be provided with this information prior to and during the treatment cycle. Some side effects can be serious and these should also be explained to the patient and what steps to take if this does happen should also be discussed. In most cases the patient may need to go to the emergency department of the hospital if it is a serious side effect.

The good news is that many of the common side effects can be minimised or not happen at all when the patient receives other medications to help with the side effect. Therefore, it is always very important to mention any side effects that are happening to the nurse or healthcare team.

One of the most common side-effects of lymphoma treatments are changes to your blood counts. See the table below for more information on some of these changes.

Changes to blood counts

White cells
Red Cells
Medical name

Neutrophils and lymphocytes



What do they do?

Fight infection

Carry oxygen

Stop bleeding

What is a shortage called?

Neutropenia and lymphopenia



How will this affect my body?

You will get more infections and may have difficulty getting rid of them even with taking antibiotics.

You may have pale skin, feel tired, breathless, cold and dizzy.

You may bruise easily, or have bleeding that doesn’t stop quickly when you have a cut.

What will my treating team do to fix this?

Delay your lymphoma treatment.

Give you oral or intravenous antibiotics if you have an infection.

Delay your lymphoma treatment.

Give you a red cell blood transfusion if your cell count is too low.

Delay your lymphoma treatment.

Give you a platelet transfusion if your cell count is too low.

** When all your blood cells are low it is called ‘pancytopenia’. If you have pancytopenia you may need to stay in hospital for supportive treatment until your blood counts come back up.

Other common side-effects

Finishing Treatment and Late Effects

Once you finish treatment you may still experience some side-effects. For some, these may last several weeks, but for others they may last longer, or start months or years in the future. To learn more about late effects, click the link below.

For more info see
Finishing Treatment

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For people living in Australia, we can offer a phone translation service. Have your nurse or English speaking relative call us to arrange this.