Radiation Therapy for Castleman Disease

Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to kill cells. It is sometimes used to treat localized Castleman disease (CD), especially if the affected lymph nodes can’t be removed completely with surgery. Radiation can also be used as part of the treatment for multicentric CD.

Before your treatment starts, the radiation team will take careful measurements to find the correct angles for aiming the radiation beams and the proper dose of radiation. This planning session, called simulation, usually includes getting imaging tests such as CT or MRI scans.

Radiation therapy is much like getting an x-ray, but the radiation is much stronger. The treatment itself is painless. It lasts only a few minutes, although the setup time – getting you into place for treatment – usually takes longer. You might get radiation treatment for several days in a row.

Possible side effects

Depending on where the radiation is aimed, side effects may include:

  • Skin changes in areas getting radiation, ranging from redness to blistering and peeling
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Low blood counts

Most side effects go away a short while after treatment ends, although fatigue and skin changes may last longer. Talk with your doctor about the possible side effects and the ways to reduce or relieve them.

Even though Castleman disease is not a cancer, radiation is often used in the same way as it is when people have cancer. To learn more, see Radiation Therapy.

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Last Medical Review: January 20, 2017 Last Revised: February 5, 2018

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