Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma
Radiation is often used to treat NHL (and many types of cancer) when there is a localized tumour that can be easily targeted without any other major organs in the way, or for bulky tumours that do not fully respond to chemotherapy.
There may be other reasons why your doctor chooses radiation treatment as well. For example even some of the low grade lymphomas which are normally considered incurable, can be cured if they are truly localized to one site and treated with radiation.
Lymphoma tumours are generally considered to be more sensitive to radiation therapy than many other types of cancer. This makes them good candidates for Radiation therapy.
Before beginning radiation therapy you will probably make a trip to the clinic for a simulation. During this simulation they position you on the table and measure exactly where they will be aiming the radiation. If often involves a CT scan to locate the tumours, and you will probably even get some tattoos. These tattoos (the size of a small pencil dot) are so they can line you up on the treatment table exactly in the right position.
You may also be measured for treatment blocks. If the radiation field is very close to major organs or other delicate body tissues, then they will make molds that exactly conform to your body shape, which they insert into the machine to "block" the radiation path from hitting that particular area.
While every patient requires individual assessment a standard treatment schedule will be to have treatment every weekday for four weeks. Radiation doses are likely to range from 2500 to 5000 cGy.
Below is a diagram of the typical radiation fields used, and the names of the various lymph node regions.
From the U.S.A. Environmental Protection Agency
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