Steroid therapy for non-Hodgkin lymphoma
Steroids (also known as corticosteroids) are substances made naturally in the body. They can also be produced artificially and used as an anti-inflammatory drug. The most commonly prescribed steroid for non-Hodgkin lymphoma is prednisone.
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You may be given steroids with chemotherapy to help chemotherapy work better, help destroy the lymphoma, and treat any nausea or vomiting. Corticosteroids are usually taken as tablets, but can also be given into a vein (intravenously).
Side effects of steroid therapy
Steroid therapy can cause various side effects, which depend on the dose prescribed and how long you have treatment. Most side effects gradually go away after you stop taking the medicine.
When taken for a short period of time, steroids may increase your appetite, make you feel restless, make it harder to sleep or stay asleep (insomnia), cause weight gain and mood changes.
If you need to take steroids for several months, you may have a build-up of fluid in the body (known as fluid retention), high blood pressure and high blood glucose levels (which may lead to diabetes in some people). There is an increased risk of developing stomach ulcers, so your doctor may prescribe a drug to help prevent ulcers while you are on steroid therapy. You may also be more likely to get infections.
Your treatment team can help you manage or reduce side effects, especially if they are causing you discomfort.
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A/Prof Christina Brown, Haematologist, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital; Khaled Aly, Consumer; Kevin Bloom, Senior Social Worker, Haematology and Bone Marrow Transplant, Royal North Shore Hospital; Katrina Debosz, CAR-T and Lymphoma Nurse Practitioner, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital; Dr Samuel Dickson, Radiation Oncologist, Calvary Mater Newcastle; Dr Wojt Janowski, Haematologist, Calvary Mater Newcastle; Yvonne King, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council NSW; Karen Maddock, Blood Transplant and Cell Therapy Nurse Practitioner, Westmead Hospital; Sheridan Wellings, Consumer.
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