Leukemia: Chronic Myelomonocytic

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Treating Leukemia - Chronic Myelomonocytic (CMML) TOPICS

Radiation therapy for chronic myelomonocytic leukemia

Radiation therapy is treatment with high-energy rays or particles to destroy cancer cells. The most common form of radiation therapy, external beam radiation therapy, aims x-rays from a machine outside the patient’s body. The treatment is much like getting an x-ray, but the radiation is more intense. The procedure itself is painless. Before your treatments start, the radiation team will take careful measurements to determine the correct angles for aiming the radiation beams and the proper dose of radiation. Each treatment lasts only a few minutes, but the setup time -- getting you into place for treatment -- usually takes longer.

If someone who has chronic myelomonocytic (MY-eh-loh-MAH-noh-SIH-tik) leukemia (CMML) is having problems from a very enlarged spleen, radiation therapy may be used to shrink it. Shrinking the spleen can improve symptoms like abdominal (belly) pain and trouble eating, but there are some risks. Treating the spleen with radiation can affect the way it works. Since the spleen helps protect against infection, this can increase the risk of severe infections. If you are considering treatment with radiation for an enlarged spleen, you should talk about the risks and benefits with your doctor. You may also need to get certain vaccines before radiation starts.

For more information about radiation therapy, see our document Understanding Radiation Therapy: A Guide for Patients and Families.


Last Medical Review: 01/19/2014
Last Revised: 03/21/2014