Leukemia--Chronic Lymphocytic Overview

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Treating Leukemia - Chronic Lymphocytic (CLL) TOPICS

Radiation therapy for chronic lymphocytic leukemia

Radiation therapy, the use of high energy x-rays to kill cancer cells, is usually not part of the main treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). For some people with an enlarged organ such as the spleen, radiation might be used to shrink the swelling. It is also useful in treating bone pain caused by growth of leukemia cells in the bone marrow.

Radiation therapy is sometimes given in low doses to the whole body, just before a stem cell transplant (see the section, "Stem cell transplant for chronic lymphocytic leukemia").

The main short-term side effects of radiation treatment are sunburn-like changes in the treated area, tiredness, and a higher chance of infection. Radiation to the belly (abdomen) can sometimes cause nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

You can learn more about radiation treatments in our document Understanding Radiation Therapy: A Guide for Patients and Families.

Last Medical Review: 08/05/2013
Last Revised: 11/04/2014