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Home > Health & Fitness > Healthwise > Radiation Therapy for Lymphoma and Leukemia
Radiation therapy is the use of high-dose X-rays to destroy cancer
cells. Radiation therapy is often used for the treatment of cancer, such as
non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL),
Hodgkin's lymphoma, and all
types of leukemia. Radiation therapy may be used alone or in combination with
other treatment options, such as
Radiation may be given in different ways. For lymphoma or leukemia, the way radiation is given depends on the type and stage of cancer being treated.
Side effects are common but generally go away when treatment is
finished. They include:
For non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), radiation may be used alone or in combination
with other treatment options, such as chemotherapy. Radiation is also
palliative care if chemotherapy is not
When used to treat
chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), radiation therapy
is usually given to relieve pain from either an enlarged
Radiation therapy is used to help keep an acute leukemia from
spreading to the central nervous system (CNS prophylaxis). It is also used to
treat recurrent leukemia that has spread to the brain or spinal cord.
For some stages of leukemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
(NHL), radiation therapy works well when used alone. But it may be used in combination with chemotherapy, depending on the type and the stage of the cancer.
The short-term side effects of radiation therapy are common but usually get better
and go away when treatments stop. These side effects depend on the area of the body
affected by treatments and may include:
The long-term side effects of radiation therapy depend on what part of your body was treated, how much radiation you were given, and how long your treatment lasted. For example, radiation therapy to the pelvis may cause permanent
sterility. Other long-term side effects may include brain changes, joint problems, lymphedema, mouth problems, and other cancers. These side effects depend on whether you also had chemotherapy.
Radiation therapy to the pelvis may cause permanent sterility.
Discuss fertility options with your doctor before you begin pelvic
radiation for NHL or CLL.
Complete the special treatment information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this treatment.
Current as of:
March 12, 2014
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Douglas A. Stewart, MD - Medical Oncology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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