Radiation Therapy for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
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External Beam Radiation Therapy
In external beam ]]>radiation therapy]]> , radiation is produced by a machine called a linear accelerator. Short bursts of x-rays are fired from the machine at your cancer. The x-rays come out in a square-shaped manner, and the radiation oncologist designs special blocks or uses special columnators within the machine to shape the radiation beam so that it treats the cancer and as little normal tissue as possible. Newer techniques, such as conformal therapy and intensity modulated treatment (IMRT) may be used to help deliver as precise and controlled a dose to the tumor area as possible. In general, radiation for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma will involve treating the areas involved with the lymphoma.
Radiation of a Tumor
Like ]]>chemotherapy]]> , the side effects from radiation result from injury to the normal tissue. There are many ways that the radiation oncologist can customize your treatment to try to kill as much cancer while sparing as much normal tissue as possible. The radiation oncologist will determine how many treatments you will receive; sometimes they will be once a day and sometimes twice per day. Each treatment generally only takes a few minutes, and the total treatment time can range from 5-8 weeks depending on the total dose required.
Radiation therapy can be given to treat cancer at its initial site or once it has spread. In some cases, once cancer has spread, radiation is no longer curative. However, the treatments can help resolve problems that the cancer may be causing, including pain and weakness.
Many people believe that once you have received a certain dose of radiation you can no longer get any more treatment. It is true that each tissue in the body can only safely tolerate a certain dose of radiation. However, the therapy is very focused, and it is possible that you can get additional treatments to an already treated area or certainly to an area not yet treated. Ask your radiation oncologist about what dose you can safely receive.
When to Contact Your Doctor
Call your doctor if:
- You develop side effects from the treatment
- You develop new or unusual symptoms
- Your skin is red, blistered, or swollen
Non-hodgkin lymphoma. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/non-hodgkin . Accessed October 9, 2008.
What is non-hodgkin lymphoma? American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/content/CRI_2_4_1X_What_Is_Non_Hodgkins_Lymphoma_32.asp?sitearea=CRI . Updated August 2007. Accessed October 9, 2008.
Last reviewed June 2008 by ]]>Igor Puzanov, MD]]>
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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