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Radiation Therapy for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

  • Amy Scholten, MPH
Publication Type:


Radiation Therapy for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

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 with radiation therapy along with chemotherapy . Radiation therapy may be used to:

  • Shrink tumors in the neck, chest, or armpits
  • Treat localized or large tumors that are confined to one area
  • Ease symptoms from lymphoma that has spread

A radiation doctor will adjust the treatment dose for the person's needs. The goal is to kill as much cancer as possible while reducing 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 this treatment, radiation is made by a machine outside the body. Short bursts of x-rays are aimed at the tumor site. This treatment only takes a few minutes. Radiation is usually given 5 days a week. The total treatment time can last 5 to 8 weeks, depending on the total dose needed. If needed, radiation can be repeated in the same area. It may also be used on a different area after the first course is finished.

Radiation of a Tumor.

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  • 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.
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/non-hodgkin-lymphoma-nhl.
  • Radiation therapy. Leukemia & Lymphoma Society website. Available at: https://www.lls.org/treatment/types-treatment/radiation-therapy.
  • Radiation therapy for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/non-hodgkin-lymphoma/treating/radiation-therapy.html.


  • Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated:

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.