What is radiotherapy?

Radiotherapy uses high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells, while doing as little harm as possible to normal cells. It only treats the area of the body that the beams are aimed at.

Radiotherapy is usually given daily from Monday to Friday, with a rest 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. This includes how radiotherapy is planned and possible side effects

When is radiotherapy used to treat lymphoma?

Radiotherapy can be used to treat groups of lymph nodes that are affected by lymphoma.

Radiotherapy for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL)

Radiotherapy may be given:

  • as the main treatment for low-grade NHL that is in just one group of lymph nodes
  • after chemotherapy to treat low-grade or high-grade NHL
  • to treat low-grade lymphoma that has come back in just one group of lymph nodes.

Radiotherapy for Hodgkin lymphoma (HL)

Radiotherapy may be given after chemotherapy to:

Radiotherapy may also be given after surgery as the main treatment for a type of HL called NLPHL.

It may also be given if HL comes back in a group of lymph nodes.

About our information

  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) references

    Below is a sample of the sources used in our non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) information. If you would like more information about the sources we use, please contact us at cancerinformationteam@macmillan.org.uk

    National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Guideline NG46. Haematological cancers: improving outcomes. 2016.

    National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Guideline NG52. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma: diagnosis and management. 2016.

    Treleaven, et al. Guidelines on the use of irradiated blood components prepared by the British Committee for Standards in Haematology blood transfusion task force. British Journal of Haematology. 2011.

  • Reviewers

    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 Editors, Dr Anne Parker, Consultant Haematologist; and Professor Rajnish Gupta, Macmillan Consultant Medical Oncologist.

    Our cancer information has been awarded the PIF TICK. Created by the Patient Information Forum, this quality mark shows we meet PIF’s 10 criteria for trustworthy health information.