Lymphoma Treatments

“Patients at City of Hope have the advantage of early access to the new agents that will one day become standard of care.”
Larry Kwak, M.D., Ph.D., Director, Toni Stephenson Lymphoma Center and Dr. Michael Friedman Professor in Translational Medicine

What Are the Treatment Options for Lymphoma?

City of Hope’s approach to treating lymphoma starts with a coordinated, multidisciplinary care team whose main goals are helping you to live a long, healthy, cancer-free life.

The newest therapies and treatment combinations, tailored to your specific type of lymphoma, are what guide your treatment. Our lymphoma specialists offer leading-edge therapies – and specialize in treating difficult lymphomas, including both aggressive and slow-growing disease.

Combination Treatment

The most common treatment for both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma is combination chemotherapy. Newer treatments such as radiation, targeted therapy and immunotherapy often are combined with chemotherapy to increase the chances treatment will be effective. Factors that determine your treatment course include:

  • Type of lymphoma
  • Stage and category of the disease
  • Response to prior treatment
  • Whether the disease has come back after treatment
  • Whether other medical problems such as heart or kidney disease are involved

Our goal for your treatment is improving the chances of a cure while ensuring that, along the way, your therapy is of the lowest toxicity so that you can maintain your quality of life.

Skin Lymphoma Experts

Skin lymphomas are rare and often debilitating diseases. We are one of the only cancer centers in the country with world experts on cutaneous lymphomas, including:

  • Cutaneous T cell lymphoma
  • Follicle center lymphoma
  • Marginal zone B cell lymphoma
  • Diffuse large B cell lymphomas of the leg and other areas

These are some of the most difficult lymphomas to diagnose since they resemble other common skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis and ringworm. Our team includes hematopathologists able to discern the difference between skin lymphoma subtypes, and are responsible for groundbreaking skin-directed and light therapies to treat them once they are diagnosed.

Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplantation Leaders

For patients with recurrent or particularly aggressive disease, transplantation may be a treatment option. City of Hope is a world leader in setting standards for stem cell transplantation and improving long-term outcomes for both children and adults. Using innovative approaches for blood and bone marrow transplantation to treat lymphoma has led our Hematologic Malignancies Research Institute to be considered an industry leader with unrivaled survival rates.

Learn more about our bone marrow and stem cell transplantation program.

AIDS-related Lymphoma

City of Hope scientists pioneered the use of blood stem cell transplants to treat patients with HIV and AIDS-related lymphoma, changing the standard of care. They used a new form of gene therapy to achieve the first long-term persistence of anti-HIV genes in patients with AIDS-related lymphoma. This treatment ultimately may cure not only lymphoma, but also HIV/AIDS.

Improving outcomes

Diagnosis, treatment and cure rates for lymphoma are improving every year, and research at City of Hope has helped to fuel those trends and improve outcomes among our patients.

Leading-edge clinical trials, collaborations with a large network of institutions and our designation as a lymphoma Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) provide our patients with exciting new treatment options.

And City of Hope’s unique ability to produce and manufacture the agents being developed by our investigators means treatments get to our patients faster.

“Each day that our patients continue to spend with their loved ones is a testament to the strides we are making in understanding and beating treatment-resistant lymphomas.”
Robert Chen, M.D., hematologist


Chemotherapy, the most common treatment for lymphoma, uses drugs to either kill cancer cells or stop them from growing. This approach is usually necessary to kill cancer cells circulating throughout the lymphatic system.

Exciting advances in chemotherapy at City of Hope are allowing patients with advanced disease to get drug combinations – including combining targeted therapies, radiotherapies and immunotherapies with chemotherapy – designed to slow down disease progression and improve quality of life.


Immunotherapy is a way of awakening the immune system to action against cancer cells. Immune cells patrol the body in search of disease, but cancer cells often devise ways to get around or suppress them. City of Hope is developing and testing drugs that can unleash dramatic and specific immune responses to cancer cells – or make them visible to the immune system.

Many of the clinical trials at City of Hope are exploring immunotherapy to treat lymphoma, including exciting advances in CAR T cell therapy that have resulted in both partial and complete remissions.

Targeted Therapies

City of Hope uses the latest technology to spot genetic vulnerabilities in cancer cells and use medications to stop them from growing. Knowing how a tumor behaves and how it would respond to different therapies allows us to created targeted therapies: drugs or drug combinations that would work best to treat specific cancers.

Monoclonal antibodies

A recent trial led by City of Hope – involving the targeted therapy brentuximab vedotin – cured or extended the lives of several patients who had failed multiple therapies. Brentuximab vedotin is one of an exciting new class of drugs called monoclonal antibodies, which target specific molecules on the surface of cancer cells to stimulate a response. These drugs are a normal part of therapy for many of our patients.

Small molecules

We are investigating small molecules that interfere with the defective signaling inside cancer cells that help them to grow and divide uncontrollably. These drugs are often given in pill form and have significantly fewer side effects than chemotherapy.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. It is one of the most effective treatments for lymphoma and often is paired with other treatments. City of Hope offers advanced radiation treatments that are highly targeted to cancer cells while protecting the surrounding normal tissue.

One technique, TomoTherapy, includes delivering focused radiation to the entire bone marrow compartment. The technique, called total marrow irradiation, is an effective way to target cancer cells while reducing side effects. And we are actively investigating a leading-edge radioimmunotherapy, a way to direct radioactive particles toward cancer cells and kill them.

Our approach to radiation for patients with chronic types of lymphoma is to monitor and sometimes limit the number of scans each patient has in an effort to reduce the dose of radiation exposure – and our radiologists have protocols designed to limit the amount of radiation delivered with each scan.