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Radiation Treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma-- is this enough?
Dec 12, 2001

I wrote you in August concerning a recent diagnosis for NHL. I decided to go on a naturopathic protocol and my NHL tumors went into spontaneous remission in September. A CT scan in early November showed no tumors. In early December I noticed another small tumor on my right side, near the right breast. I went back to my oncologist last week and he wants to do another CT scan. If there are no other tumors, he would like to try radiation therapy on that one tumor and not CHOP. If there are more tumors, he will perform CHOP. Does this approach sound reasonable? He has indicated that radiation may be less disruptive to my HIV and immune system. I have not read about using only radiation as a therapy method. Is this effective?

My viral load is 11,000 and CD4 is 310. I have no other symptoms (weight loss, night sweats or any other HIV related illness). Thanks!

PS - I am taking your advice from August and starting anti-retroviral meds this month! I meet with my HIV doctor next week and we are reviewing your protocol regimens from your last response.

Response from Dr. Dezube

As I see it, radiation therapy as the only therapy is NOT reasonable. The lymphomas, which HIV'ers get, are typically very aggressive and even if it looks like the tumor is localized to just one area, it rarely is. Usually the tumor will have sent out tumor seeds to other parts of the body. Standard treatment is 6 cycles of CHOP chemotherapy. If the tumor is localized to one spot, then often oncologists will treat with just 2 cycles of chemotherapy followed by radiation therapy-- the 2 cycles of chemotherapy kill the tumor seeds, the radiation takes care of the localized lump. HOWEVER, I have never seen, heard, or recommended radiation as a stand-alone therapy.

I'm glad that you started anti-retroviral meds. This is a must in all lymphoma patients. BD.


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