Radiation Therapy for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
by Jondavid Pollock, MD, PhD
Radiation therapy uses high energy x-rays to destroy cancer cells. For early stage non-Hodgkin lymphomas, radiation therapy is the first line of treatment. Advanced stages are treated in combination with chemotherapy. Radiation therapy may be used to:
A radiation oncologist will customize the treatment dose for individual needs. The goal is to try and kill as much cancer while minimizing harm to healthy tissue.
There are different types of radiation therapy, but external beam radiation is used to treat non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
External Beam Radiation
In external beam radiation therapy, radiation is produced by a machine positioned outside the body. Short bursts of x-rays are directed at the tumor site. The radiation specialist will direct the radiation beam to affect as much of the tumor as possible. External beam radiation only takes a few minutes and the total treatment time can last 5-8 weeks, depending on the total dose required. In most cases, radiation is given 5 days a week. If needed, radiation therapy can be repeated in the same or different area after the initial course is completed.
Side Effects and Management
Complications of radiation therapy depend on where it is directed, and may include:
A variety of treatments are available to help manage side effects of radiation therapy. Sometimes adjustments to treatment doses may also be possible. The earlier side effects are addressed, the more likely they will be controlled with a minimum of discomfort.
Adult non-Hodgkin lymphoma treatment (PDQ)—patient version. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/lymphoma/patient/adult-nhl-treatment-pdq. Accessed January 28, 2021.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed... . Accessed January 28, 2021.
Radiation therapy. Leukemia & Lymphoma Society website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed January 28, 2021.
Radiation therapy for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/non-hodgkin-lymphoma/treating/radiation-therapy.html. Accessed January 28, 2021.
Last reviewed December 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 1/28/2021
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at email@example.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.