Radiotherapy for lymphoma
Radiotherapy can be used to treat groups of lymph nodes that are affected by lymphoma
Radiotherapy is usually given as a number of short, daily treatments in a hospital radiotherapy department.
You usually have radiotherapy as an outpatient from Monday to Friday, with a break at the weekend.
The length of your treatment will depend on the type and stage of the lymphoma. But it is normally no more than 3 weeks.
We have more information about having radiotherapy and how it is planned.
Radiotherapy may be given:
- as the main treatment for low-grade non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) that is only in one group of lymph nodes
- after chemotherapy to treat low-grade or high-grade NHL, to reduce the risk of it coming back
- to treat an area of NHL that has not completely responded to chemotherapy
- at diagnosis, if there is an area of lymphoma that is 10cm (4 inches) or more across (bulky disease)
- to treat NHL that has come back in only one group of lymph nodes
- to help control symptoms, such as pain.
Radiotherapy may be given:
- after chemotherapy to treat classical Hodgkin lymphoma, to reduce the risk of it coming back
- as the main treatment, or after chemotherapy for nodular lymphocyte predominant Hodgkin lymphoma (NLPHL)
- to treat Hodgkin lymphoma that remains in a group of lymph nodes after chemotherapy
- at diagnosis to treat an area of lymphoma that is 10cm (4 inches) or more across (bulky disease)
- to treat Hodgkin lymphoma that has come back in a group of lymph nodes, although this is less common.
Radiotherapy can cause side effects in the area of your body that is being treated. You may also have some general side effects, such as feeling tired. After treatment finishes, it may be 1 to 2 weeks before side effects start getting better. After this, most side effects usually slowly go away.
Your cancer doctor, specialist nurse or radiographer will tell you what to expect. They will give you advice on what you can do to manage side effects. If you have any new side effects or if side effects get worse, tell them straight away.
Radiotherapy can have long-term side effects or late effects. These are rare and will vary depending on the part of the body treated. Your cancer doctor can tell you more.
Macmillan is here to support you. If you would like to talk, you can:
Below is a sample of the sources used in our lymphoma information. If you would like more information about the sources we use, please contact us at email@example.com
National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Blood and bone marrow cancers. NICE Pathways. Last accessed 3 December 2020.
Hodgkin lymphoma: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up; European Society for Medical Oncology (2018).
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma: diagnosis and management; NICE Guideline (July 2016).
Newly Diagnosed and Relapsed Follicular Lymphoma: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up; European Society for Medical Oncology (2020).
This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by expert medical and health professionals and people living with cancer. It has been approved by Senior Medical Editor, Professor Rajnish Gupta, Macmillan Consultant Medical Oncologist.
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