Radiation Therapy for Primary Central Nervous System Lymphoma

Doctors at NYU Langone may prescribe radiation therapy as well as medication for people with primary central nervous system lymphoma. Radiation therapy uses energy beams that penetrate the skin, killing cancer cells. Large B-cell lymphomas—the most common type of central nervous system lymphoma—tend to be more responsive to radiation therapy than other types.

Primary central nervous system lymphoma can affect many parts of the brain, so a treatment called “whole-brain” radiation therapy may be used. Radiation to the entire brain is typically required in order to kill cancer cells and prevent the risk of recurrence.

Whole-brain radiation therapy involves less radiation than the standard dose in order to prevent or lessen side effects affecting the brain. Radiation therapy is usually given once or twice daily for three weeks. 

Researchers at NYU Langone are studying the use of radiation therapy in combination with medications that stimulate the immune system. Your doctor can advise you on whether joining a clinical trial may be beneficial.

Managing Side Effects

Possible side effects of radiation therapy include headaches, nausea, vomiting, hair loss, extreme fatigue, trouble with speech and memory, and seizures. People with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS, generally experience more severe side effects, because their immune systems are already seriously weakened.

NYU Langone doctors and nurses provide ongoing support to help manage any side effects.

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