Radiation Therapy for Hodgkin Lymphoma in Adults

NYU Langone doctors may recommend radiation therapy—typically after chemotherapy—for Hodgkin lymphoma. During radiation therapy, high energy beams are used to destroy cancer cells.

This treatment takes 15 to 20 minutes and is typically administered five days a week for several weeks. Small tattoos may be applied to the skin to help the technician position the machine correctly during each treatment.

A radiation oncologist, who works with hematologist–oncologists and radiologists, determines the dose and target of the radiation.

External Beam Radiation Therapy

External beam radiation therapy is the most common type of radiation therapy used in people with Hodgkin lymphoma. During treatment, a machine delivers X-ray beams to cancer cells.

This type of radiation therapy is typically given once a day, five days a week, for several weeks.

Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy

In intensity modulated radiation therapy, large machines called linear accelerators deliver targeted energy beams to cancer cells. The intensity can be adjusted to increase the radiation dose to cancer cells and reduce the effects on normal tissue.

The procedure takes five minutes and is performed five days a week for several weeks. It is typically used to treat tumors located in the chest and abdomen to help reduce damage to healthy cells in vital organs, such as the heart, lungs, and stomach.

Managing Side Effects

The most common side effects of radiation therapy are a decrease in blood cell levels, fatigue, and a skin reaction. Other side effects vary depending on the parts of the body that are being treated. Your doctor discusses the side effects with you and helps you manage them.