Radiation therapy (also called RT or radiotherapy) is used to treat Hodgkins lymphoma (HL) and non-Hodgkins lymphoma (NHL). Radiation therapy is more likely to be used in cases where lymphoma is limited to one part of the body. Radiation therapy is sometimes combined with chemotherapy. In cases of HL, radiotherapy is likely to be given after chemotherapy. For people with NHL, radiotherapy may be used as a primary treatment for indolent lymphomas in the early stages, or after chemotherapy in cases of localized aggressive NHL. Radiotherapy is overseen by a radiation oncologist.
Radiation interferes with cell division. Since cancer cells divide much more rapidly than normal cells, they are more vulnerable to radiation. Radiation kills cancer cells, but the normal, healthy cells of your body are better able to survive and heal. Radiation therapy can help shrink tumor size, slow or prevent the spread of tumors, and may strengthen the bone and help treat pain.
What does it involve?
Radiation therapy comes in two main forms, external beam radiation and internal radiation. External beam radiation is the most common form used for lymphoma. In external beam radiation, beams of energy are projected from a machine into your body, carefully targeted onto the location affected by plasmacytoma.
When you arrive for your first external beam radiation appointment, the radiation therapist will take an x-ray called a port film to establish the best position for you to be in during treatment. They may make small permanent or semi-permanent marks on your skin to indicate where the beam should be targeted. Do not try to wash this off or retouch it. In each appointment, the therapist will position you carefully on the table. You will need to lie still while the radiation is delivered. Try to stay relaxed. You will not feel anything during the treatment, although gradually over several treatments, your skin in that area will develop a burn like a sunburn. This may be painful, but can be treated with topical ointments.
Radiation schedules differ based on the size, location, and type of tumor, other treatments you are receiving, and additional factors. Radiation therapy is usually delivered several days a week during the treatment period, which is usually between two and 10 weeks. Receiving the treatment takes about 30 minutes, but preparation time may take longer.
During and after radiation therapy, take extra care of your health by eating a nutritious diet, getting plenty of sleep, and exercising regularly. These measures will help you feel your best and recover more quickly from radiotherapy. Care for your skin where it was affected by radiation by wearing loose clothing and keeping it shielded from the sun.
Radiation therapy can reduce pain by shrinking tumors. Radiation therapy helps prevent cancer progression and relapse by killing cancer cells, shrinking tumors, and destroying any remaining cells after tumors have been removed.
Radiation therapy has been used as a treatment for lymphoma for more than 50 years. Newer medications and chemotherapy regimens are so effective that some researchers question whether radiation therapy still provides enough benefits to outweigh its serious potential side effects. However, newer methods of delivering radiation therapy are designed to limit side effects. More studies are needed to understand the comparative safety and effectiveness of radiation therapy and the role it should play in lymphoma treatment.
Most common side effects of external beam radiation are short-term. These include fatigue, swelling, nausea, diarrhea, and skin damage similar to sunburn. These changes are usually gone within six to 12 months after external beam radiation treatment ceases but may linger for as long as two years.
Less common side effects include nerve damage that can leave parts of the body feeling painful, weak or numb.
Rare but serious side effects of external beam radiation can include damage to the heart and developing a different type of cancer called angiosarcoma.
For more details about this treatment, visit:
Lymphoma - Non-Hodgkin: Treatment Options – Cancer.net
Lymphoma - Hodgkin: Treatment Options – Cancer.net
Hodgkin Lymphoma: Radiotherapy – Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
Radiation Therapy – Leukemia & Lymphoma Society http://www.lls.org/treatment/types-of-treatment...
External Beam Radiation Therapy – American Cancer Society https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and...
Radiation Therapy for Hodgkin Lymphoma – American Cancer Society
Radiation Therapy – Lymphoma Research Foundation
The Role of Radiotherapy in Hodgkin's Lymphoma: What Has Been Achieved during the Last 50 Years? – BioMed Research International
Radiotherapy for Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma: still standard practice and not an outdated treatment option – Radiation Oncology