(Note: This information is about treating acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) in adults. To learn about ALL in children, see Leukemia in Children.)
Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells. It is not usually part of the main treatment for people with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), but it is used in certain situations:
External beam radiation therapy, in which a machine delivers a beam of radiation to a specific part of the body, is the type of radiation used most often for ALL. Before your treatment starts, the radiation team will take careful measurements to determine the correct angles for aiming the radiation beams and the proper dose of radiation. This planning session, called simulation, usually includes getting imaging tests such as CT or MRI scans.
Radiation treatment is much like getting an x-ray, but the radiation is much stronger. The procedure itself is painless. Each treatment lasts only a few minutes, although the setup time – getting you into place for treatment – usually takes longer. The number of treatments you get depends on the reason radiation therapy is being used.
The possible side effects of radiation therapy depend on where the radiation is aimed. They include:
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Last Revised: October 17, 2018