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    Adult Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma During Pregnancy

    General Information About NHL During Pregnancy

    Non-Hodgkin lymphomas (NHLs) occur more frequently than Hodgkin lymphoma in an older population. This age difference may account for fewer reports of NHL in pregnant patients.[1]

    Stage Information for NHL During Pregnancy

    To avoid exposure to ionizing radiation, magnetic resonance imaging is the preferred tool for staging evaluation.[2] (Refer to the Stage Information for Adult NHL section of this summary for more information.)

    Treatment Option Overview for NHL During Pregnancy

    Table 5. Treatment Options for NHL During Pregnancy

    Stage Standard Treatment Options
    Indolent NHL During Pregnancy Delay treatment until after delivery
    Aggressive NHL During Pregnancy Immediate therapy
    Early delivery, when feasible
    Termination of pregnancy

    Indolent NHL During Pregnancy

    Treatment may be delayed for those women with an indolent NHL.

    Aggressive NHL During Pregnancy

    Immediate therapy

    According to anecdotal case series, most NHLs in pregnant patients are aggressive, and delay of therapy until after delivery appears to have poor outcomes.[1,3,4,5] Consequently, some investigators favor immediate therapy, even during pregnancy.[5] In a review of 121 patient case reports from 74 papers, one-half of the patients had very aggressive lymphomas, such as Burkitt lymphoma, and one-half of the patients had involvement of the breast, ovaries, uterus, or placenta.[6] One-half of the patients received therapy antepartum, and the 6-month survival was reported at 53%, with a live-birth rate of 83%.[6][Level of evidence: 3iiiDiv]

    Early delivery when feasible

    For some women, early delivery, when feasible, may minimize or avoid exposure to chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

    Termination of pregnancy

    Termination of pregnancy in the first trimester may be an option that allows immediate therapy for women with aggressive NHL.

    Evidence (treatment effect on children exposed in utero):

    • With follow-up ranging from several months to 11 years, children who were exposed to high-dose doxorubicin-containing combination chemotherapy in utero (especially during the second and third trimester) have been found to be normal.[5,7,8,9] For most of the chemotherapeutic agents used for the treatment of NHL, there are no data regarding long-term effects on children exposed in utero.


    1. Ward FT, Weiss RB: Lymphoma and pregnancy. Semin Oncol 16 (5): 397-409, 1989.
    2. Nicklas AH, Baker ME: Imaging strategies in the pregnant cancer patient. Semin Oncol 27 (6): 623-32, 2000.
    3. Steiner-Salz D, Yahalom J, Samuelov A, et al.: Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma associated with pregnancy. A report of six cases, with a review of the literature. Cancer 56 (8): 2087-91, 1985.
    4. Spitzer M, Citron M, Ilardi CF, et al.: Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma during pregnancy. Gynecol Oncol 43 (3): 309-12, 1991.
    5. Gelb AB, van de Rijn M, Warnke RA, et al.: Pregnancy-associated lymphomas. A clinicopathologic study. Cancer 78 (2): 304-10, 1996.
    6. Horowitz NA, Benyamini N, Wohlfart K, et al.: Reproductive organ involvement in non-Hodgkin lymphoma during pregnancy: a systematic review. Lancet Oncol 14 (7): e275-82, 2013.
    7. Avilés A, Díaz-Maqueo JC, Torras V, et al.: Non-Hodgkin's lymphomas and pregnancy: presentation of 16 cases. Gynecol Oncol 37 (3): 335-7, 1990.
    8. Moore DT, Taslimi MM: Multi-agent chemotherapy in a case of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in second trimester of pregnancy. J Tenn Med Assoc 84 (9): 435-6, 1991.
    9. Nantel S, Parboosingh J, Poon MC: Treatment of an aggressive non-Hodgkin's lymphoma during pregnancy with MACOP-B chemotherapy. Med Pediatr Oncol 18 (2): 143-5, 1990.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

    Last Updated: May 28, 2015
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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