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.

Radiation focused from a source outside the body is called external beam radiation. The treatment is much like getting an x-ray, but the radiation is more intense. Before the treatments start, the radiation team takes careful measurements to determine the correct angles for aiming the radiation beams and the proper dose. Each treatment lasts only a few minutes, although the setup time – getting you into place for treatment – usually takes longer. Most often, radiation treatments are given 5 days a week for several weeks.

Common side effects of radiation can include skin problems (like a sunburn) in areas that get radiation and fatigue. Radiation to the abdomen can cause nausea, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. These side effects tend to improve a short while after the radiation is stopped. Radiation to the chest area can damage the heart and lungs. This might eventually lead to problems such as shortness of breath or an increased risk of heart attacks. Radiation can also make the side effects of chemotherapy worse if they both are given at the same time.

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 the “ Radiation Therapy” section of our website, or our document Understanding Radiation Therapy: A Guide for Patients and Families.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master's-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: July 7, 2014 Last Revised: May 23, 2016

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