What is follicular lymphoma?

Follicular lymphoma is a cancer of the immune system.



Follicular lymphoma is a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, one of the most common forms of blood cancer. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma can be either fast growing (aggressive) or slow growing (indolent).

Follicular lymphoma is the most common slow-growing type and occurs in lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. These cells are an important part of your immune system and help defend your body from infection. 

When you have follicular lymphoma, too many white blood cells that are affected by the disease build up in your lymph nodes, blood, and bone marrow. They may also build up in your spleen (an organ in your immune system) and cause swelling of this organ.


Where FL Develops in the Body

Diagram of where Follicular Lymphoma develops in the body

What are the signs and symptoms of follicular lymphoma?

Although individuals experience symptoms differently, those with follicular lymphoma often will notice an area of painless swelling on the body, such as on the neck, underarm, or groin. Since follicular lymphoma is slow-growing, immediate treatment is not always needed. If you don't appear to have symptoms, you may not be treated right away. This approach is called “active surveillance” or “watchful waiting.” When your doctor chooses this approach, he or she will closely monitor your condition.

You can take an active role in keeping an eye on your follicular lymphoma by paying careful attention to changes to your health and communicating symptoms to your doctor.

Possible follicular lymphoma symptoms you should watch for include (but are not limited to):

  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpit, or groin, which may be painless
  • Fever, fatigue, and night sweats
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Severe or frequent infections
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Numbness or tingling in feet and/or hands
  • Headaches and/or blurry vision

Your doctor may look for:

  • Swelling in your lymph nodes, liver, or spleen
  • An increase in the number of abnormal white blood cells
  • A decrease in the number of normal blood cells

Follicular lymphoma cannot be diagnosed by symptoms alone. You are not often the first to notice your follicular lymphoma. It is usually detected by routine check-ups or blood work for other health issues.

If your doctor suspects follicular lymphoma after reviewing your signs and symptoms, he or she will order tests to confirm the diagnosis and to determine how advanced the disease is.


Common tests include:

  • Routine tests such as physical exam, blood cell counts, and lymph node or bone marrow biopsy
  • Flow cytometry—a sample of your cells is examined using a laser beam and a computer to find out the type of cancer and the number of cells involved
  • Imaging tests such as PET-CT or CT scans—these scans produce images of the inside of your body that help show the location of follicular lymphoma

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QUESTIONS FOR YOUR DOCTOR?

Explore questions you may want to ask your doctor.

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This is not meant to replace the advice of your healthcare team.

Indication

GAZYVA® (obinutuzumab) is a prescription medicine used in combination with chemotherapy, followed by GAZYVA alone in those who responded, to treat stage II bulky, III, or IV follicular lymphoma (FL) in adults who have not had previous FL treatment.
 

What is the most important safety information I should know about GAZYVA?

Tell your doctor right away about any side effect you experience. GAZYVA can cause side effects that can become serious or life-threatening, including:

  • Hepatitis B Virus (HBV): Hepatitis B can cause liver failure and death. If you have a history of hepatitis B infection, GAZYVA could cause it to return. You should not receive GAZYVA if you have active hepatitis B liver disease. Your doctor or healthcare team will need to screen you for hepatitis B before, and monitor you during and after, your treatment with GAZYVA. Sometimes this will require treatment for hepatitis B. Symptoms of hepatitis include: worsening of fatigue and yellow discoloration of skin or eyes

  • Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML): PML is a rare and serious brain infection caused by a virus. PML can be fatal. Your weakened immune system could put you at risk. Your doctor will watch for symptoms. Symptoms of PML include: confusion, difficulty talking or walking, dizziness or loss of balance, and vision problems

Who should not receive GAZYVA?

  • Do NOT receive GAZYVA if you have had an allergic reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis or serum sickness) to GAZYVA. Tell your healthcare provider if you have had an allergic reaction to obinutuzumab or any other ingredients in GAZYVA in the past

What are the additional possible serious side effects of GAZYVA?

Tell your doctor right away about any side effect you experience. GAZYVA can cause side effects that may become severe or life-threatening, including:

  • Infusion-Related Reactions (IRRs): These side effects may occur during or within 24 hours of any GAZYVA infusion. Some IRRs can be serious, including, but not limited to, severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis), acute life-threatening breathing problems, or other life-threatening IRRs. If you have a reaction, the infusion is either slowed or stopped until your symptoms are resolved. Most patients are able to complete infusions and receive medication again. However, if the IRR is life-threatening, the infusion of GAZYVA will be permanently stopped. Your healthcare team will take steps to help lessen any side effects you may have to the infusion process. You may be given medicines to take before each GAZYVA treatment. Symptoms of IRRs may include: fast heartbeat, tiredness, dizziness, headache, redness of the face, nausea, chills, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, rash, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, difficulty breathing, and chest discomfort

  • Hypersensitivity Reactions Including Serum Sickness: Some people receiving GAZYVA may have severe or life-threatening allergic reactions. This reaction may be severe, may happen during or after an infusion, and may affect many areas of the body. If an allergic reaction occurs, your doctor will stop the infusion and permanently discontinue GAZYVA

  • Tumor Lysis Syndrome (TLS): Tumor lysis syndrome, including fatal cases, has been reported in patients receiving GAZYVA. GAZYVA works to break down cancer cells quickly. As cancer cells break apart, their contents are released into the blood. These contents may cause damage to organs and the heart and may lead to kidney failure requiring the need for dialysis treatment. Your doctor may prescribe medication to help prevent TLS. Your doctor will also conduct regular blood tests to check for TLS. Symptoms of TLS may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and tiredness

  • Infections: While you’re taking GAZYVA, you may develop infections. Some of these infections may be fatal and severe, so be sure to talk to your doctor if you think you have an infection. Patients administered GAZYVA in combination with chemotherapy, followed by GAZYVA alone are at a high risk of infections during and after treatment. Patients with a history of recurring or chronic infections may be at an increased risk of infection. Patients with an active infection should not be treated with GAZYVA. Patients taking GAZYVA plus bendamustine may be at higher risk for fatal or severe infections compared to patients taking GAZYVA plus CHOP or CVP

  • Low White Blood Cell Count: When you have an abnormally low count of infection-fighting white blood cells, it is called neutropenia. While you are taking GAZYVA, your doctor will do blood work to check your white blood cell count. Severe and life-threatening neutropenia can develop during or after treatment with GAZYVA. Some cases of neutropenia can last for more than one month. If your white blood cell count is low, your doctor may prescribe medication to help prevent infections

  • Low Platelet Count: Platelets help stop bleeding or blood loss. GAZYVA may reduce the number of platelets you have in your blood; having low platelet count is called thrombocytopenia. This may affect the clotting process. While you are taking GAZYVA, your doctor will do blood work to check your platelet count. Severe and life-threatening thrombocytopenia can develop during treatment with GAZYVA. Fatal bleeding events have occurred in patients treated with GAZYVA. If your platelet count gets too low, your treatment may be delayed or reduced

The most common side effects seen with GAZYVA in a study that included previously untreated FL patients were infusion-related reactions, low white blood cell count, upper respiratory tract infections, cough, constipation and diarrhea

What other information should I tell my doctor before receiving GAZYVA?

You should talk to your doctor about:

  • Immunizations: Before receiving GAZYVA therapy, tell your healthcare provider if you have recently received or are scheduled to receive a vaccine. People who are treated with GAZYVA should not receive live vaccines

  • Pregnancy: Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, think that you might be pregnant, or plan to become pregnant. GAZYVA may harm your unborn baby. Speak to your doctor about using GAZYVA while you are pregnant. Talk to your doctor or your child’s doctor about the safety and timing of live virus vaccinations to your infant if you received GAZYVA during pregnancy. Women of childbearing potential should use effective contraception while taking GAZYVA and for 6 months after your GAZYVA treatment

  • Breastfeeding: Because of the potential risk of serious side reactions in breastfed children, women should not breastfeed while taking GAZYVA and for 6 months after your last dose

Tell your doctor about any side effects.

These are not all of the possible side effects of GAZYVA. For more information, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

GAZYVA is available by prescription only.

You may report side effects to the FDA at (800) FDA-1088, or www.fda.gov/medwatch. You may also report side effects to Genentech at (888) 835-2555.

Please see the accompanying full Prescribing Information, including BOXED WARNINGS, for additional Important Safety Information