Radiation therapy for ALL
Also known as radiotherapy, radiation therapy uses targeted radiation to kill or damage cancer cells so they cannot grow, multiply or spread. The radiation is usually in the form of x-ray beams.
Learn more about:
How it is given
Radiation therapy may be given:
- to the brain or spine when ALL has spread, or is likely to spread, to the cerebrospinal fluid
- to the whole body (total body irradiation) before a stem cell transplant.
If you are having radiation therapy to the brain, you will be fitted for a special mask. This keeps your head still during treatment.
Your radiation oncologist and haematologist will discuss the type of radiation therapy and the number of treatments you will need.
Radiation therapy most commonly causes:
- dry or itchy skin
- hair loss from your body and head.
These side effects are usually temporary and there are ways to reduce discomfort.
Total body irradiation will cause reduced sperm production in men and early menopause in premenopausal women. This means you will not be able to have a child.
For more on this, see Radiation Therapy.
Video: What is radiation therapy?
A/Prof John Moore (Conjoint UNSW), Senior Staff Specialist Haematology, Department of Haematology and Bone Marrow Transplant, Kinghorn Cancer Centre, St Vincent’s Hospital; Glynda Blomson, Consumer; Kevin Bloom, Senior Social Worker, Haematology and Bone Marrow Transplant, Royal North Shore Hospital; Sharon Frazer, Consumer; Prof Angela Hong, Radiation Oncologist, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, and Clinical Professor, The University of Sydney; Yvonne King, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council NSW; Karen Maddock, Clinical Nurse Consultant – Haematology, Westmead Hospital.
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