NCCN Guidelines for Patients
Peripheral T-cell Lymphoma, Version 1.2016
Overview of cancer treatments Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy, or “chemo,” includes drugs that
disrupt the life cycle of cancer cells so they can’t
increase in number. Some chemotherapy drugs kill
cancer cells by damaging their DNA or by disrupting
the making of DNA. Other drugs interfere with cell
parts that are needed for making new cells. Thus,
no new cells are made to replace dying cells.
Chemotherapy is often used to treat peripheral T-cell
Many chemotherapy drugs work when cells are in
an active growth phase. During the active growth
phase, cells grow and divide to form a new cell.
Chemotherapy drugs that disrupt the growth phase
work well for cancer cells that are growing and
dividing quickly. Other chemotherapy drugs work
whether cells are in a growth or resting phase.
Chemotherapy can kill both cancer and normal cells.
Most chemotherapy drugs for peripheral T-cell
lymphoma are liquids that are slowly injected into a
vein. A few are made as pills or can be injected under
the skin. By any method, the drugs travel in your
bloodstream to treat cancer throughout your body.
Doctors use the term “systemic” when talking about a
cancer treatment for the whole body. Chemotherapy
and other drugs used to treat peripheral T-cell
lymphoma are listed in
Chemotherapy is often given in cycles of treatment
days followed by days of rest. This allows the body to
recover before the next cycle. Cycles vary in length
depending on which drugs are used. Often, one total
cycle is 2 to 4 weeks long.
Chemotherapy may consist of one or more drugs.
When only one drug is used, it is called a single
agent. However, not all drugs work the same way,
so often more than one drug is used. A combination
regimen is the use of two or more chemotherapy
Part 4 is a guide that explains who should receive
which treatments. You will learn which regimens
may be part of your treatment. Chemotherapy is
sometimes given in high doses and followed by a
stem cell transplant. Stem cell transplant is described
later in this chapter.
Side effects of chemotherapy
Side effects are unhealthy or unpleasant physical
or emotional responses to treatment. Side effects of
chemotherapy differ between people. Some people
have many side effects. Others have few. Some
side effects can be very serious while others can be
unpleasant but not serious. Most side effects appear
shortly after treatment starts and will stop after
treatment. However, other side effects are long-term
or may appear years later.
Side effects of chemotherapy depend on many
factors. These factors include the drug type, amount
taken, length of treatment, and the person. In general,
most side effects are caused by the death of fast-
growing cells. These cells are found in the blood,
gut, hair follicles, and mouth. Thus, common side
effects of chemotherapy include low blood cell counts,
not feeling hungry, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hair
loss, and mouth sores. Long-term side effects of
chemotherapy for peripheral T-cell lymphoma include
increased risk for getting infections.
Not all side effects of chemotherapy are listed here.
Please ask your treatment team for a complete list of
common and rare side effects. If a side effect bothers
you, tell your treatment team. There may be ways to
help you feel better. There are also ways to prevent
some side effects.