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
- 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 (see more on Infertility).
For more on this, see our general section on Radiation Therapy.
Video: What is radiation therapy?
Watch this short video to learn more about radiation therapy.
Podcast: Making Treatment Decisions
Dr Jonathan Sillar, Haematologist, Calvary Mater Newcastle Hospital; Dr Scott Dunkley, Haematologist, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and Chris O’Brien Lifehouse; Sharon Frazer, Consumer; Dr Robin Gasiorowski, Staff Specialist, Haematology, Concord Hospital; 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; Heather Mackay, Clinical Nurse Consultant – Haematology, Westmead Hospital; Katelin Mayer, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Cancer Outreach Team, Nelune Comprehensive Cancer Centre.
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