What is radioimmunotherapy?
A targeted drug therapy, radioimmunotherapy (RIT) combines radiation therapy and immunotherapy. It works by attaching radioactive molecules, called radioisotopes (e.g., yttrium-90), to monoclonal antibodies (e.g., anti-CD20 antibodies) to target and destroy cancer cells. By delivering radiation directly to the tumor cells, this NHL treatment helps limit toxic effects on normal tissues.
Radioimmunotherapy for non-Hodgkin lymphoma
Radioimmunotherapy may be an option for NHL patients with B-cell lymphoma, specifically those with relapsed NHL (the disease returns after treatment) or refractory NHL (the disease does not respond to treatment). A common radioimmunotherapy for NHL patients is Zevalin® (ibritumomab tiuxetan), which is administered via intravenous injection.
Radioimmunotherapy offers the following advantages for NHL patients:
- The CD20-directed radiotherapeutic antibody targets, and then delivers radiation directly to, malignant cells.
- By targeting radiation directly to cancerous cells, radioimmunotherapy minimizes side effects associated with most high-dose chemotherapy regimens.
- Radioimmunotherapy is usually delivered over a shorter period of time (seven to nine days), compared to several months with standard chemotherapy.
Helping you maintain your quality of life
Side effects of radioimmunotherapy for non-Hodgkin lymphoma depend on several factors, including whether you have chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy before receiving radioimmunotherapy.
The most common side effect of radioimmunotherapy is a temporary lowering of blood counts caused by radiation to the bone marrow. This reduction in blood cell counts may cause neutropenia or anemia. Other treatment-related side effects may include fatigue, nausea, weakness, diarrhea and/or skin rash.
We provide various integrative oncology services to reduce these side effects and keep you strong throughout your NHL treatment. Therapies like nutrition therapy, naturopathic medicine, pain management, mind-body medicine and oncology rehabilitation can help keep you nutritionally fortified, increase your energy and improve your overall well-being at this time.