Steroids for Hodgkin lymphoma
Steroids are made naturally in the body. They can also be produced artificially and used as a drug to reduce inflammation (swelling). The most commonly used steroids for Hodgkin lymphoma are prednisone or prednisolone. These are known as corticosteroids.
You may be given steroids to increase the effect of the chemotherapy, help destroy the lymphoma, and treat any nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy. Steroids are usually taken as tablets, but can also be given into a vein (intravenously).
Side effects of steroids
Steroid therapy can cause various side effects, which depend on how long you have treatment.
When taken for a short period of time, steroids may cause an increased appetite and weight gain, feelings of restlessness, trouble sleeping (insomnia), and changes in mood.
If you need to take steroids for several months, this may cause a build-up of fluid in the body (fluid retention), high blood pressure, and an increase in glucose levels, which may lead to diabetes in some people. You may also be more likely to get infections and, over time, your skin, muscles and bones may weaken.
Podcast: Making Treatment Decisions
Dr Abir Bhattacharyya, Bone Marrow Transplant and General Haematologist, Westmead Hospital; Katrina Debosz, Blood Cancer Nurse Practitioner, Institute of Haematology, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital; Taylah Dvorak, Consumer; Erinna Ford, Consumer; Dr Nada Hamad, Senior Staff Specialist, Bone Marrow Transplant and Cellular Therapies, and Clinical and Laboratory Haematologist, The Kinghorn Cancer Centre, St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney; Prof Angela Hong, Radiation Oncologist, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, and Clinical Professor, The University of Sydney; Suzanne Hough, Senior Clinical Dietitian, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Westmead Hospital; Yvonne King, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council NSW; Samantha Rennie, Social Worker – Haematology, St George Hospital, Sydney.
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