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Radioimmunotherapy for non-Hodgkin lymphoma

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.

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