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Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays or particles to destroy cancer cells. Radiation therapy often plays a limited role in treating non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). This is because most people with NHL have widespread disease when they are diagnosed. However, radiation may be used for NHL:
The amount of radiation given during treatment, and when and how it is given, will be different for each person.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is usually treated with external beam radiation therapy. A machine directs radiation to the tumour and some of the surrounding tissue. Tumours can often be controlled with low to moderate doses of radiation. Although radiation therapy treatment is usually given each day for 5 days a week, the dose and schedule for the radiation therapy is determined by:
Radiation treatments are given to different areas of the body when treating NHL. The radiation field is the part of the body that receives the radiation. Some of the fields where radiation is given for treating lymphoma are:
Total nodal irradiation is the term used when radiation is given to the lymph nodes in all the fields. It is basically a combination of the mantle and inverted Y fields. This approach may be used for people with widespread, advanced stage disease.
For certain types of lymphoma, such as primary CNS lymphoma, radiation therapy is given to the brain.
Total body irradiation is the term used when low-dose radiation is given to the entire body in preparation for a stem cell transplant.
Each person's situation is unique and the radiation fields may be adjusted depending on the type of lymphoma and the extent of the disease.
We all need our own personal support system, but no matter how good your own personal support system is, it’s not the same as connecting with other survivors.
The Canadian Cancer Society’s Community Services Locator helps cancer patients and their families find the services and programs they need in their community.