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Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. This type of treatment is not used often to treat Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia (WM). Rarely, it is used to shrink an enlarged spleen or lymph nodes if they are causing symptoms.
The type of radiation therapy used to treat WM is called external beam radiation. The treatment is much like getting an x-ray, but the radiation is much stronger. The procedure itself is painless. Before the treatments start, the radiation team takes 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, although the setup time — getting you into place for treatment — usually takes longer. Most often, radiation treatments are given 5 days a week for a few weeks.
Immediate side effects of radiation therapy can include sunburn-like skin problems, fatigue, and low blood cell counts. Other side effects depend on the area being treated. Radiation of the abdomen may cause nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Radiation to the head and neck area can lead to mouth sores and trouble swallowing. Often these effects go away a short while after treatment is finished.
A rare long-term side effect of radiation is a new cancer developing in the treated area.
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
Buske C, Leblond V, Dimopoulos M, et al. Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinaemia: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up. Ann Oncol. 2013;24 Suppl 6:vi155–159.
Gertz MA. Waldenström macroglobulinemia: 2017 update on diagnosis, risk stratification, and management. Am J Hematol. 2017;92:209-217.
Mazzucchelli M., Frustaci A.M., Deodato M., Cairoli R., Tedeschi A. Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia: an update. Mediterr J Hematol Infect Dis 2018, 10(1): e2018004, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4084/MJHID.2018.004
National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN). Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology: Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia/Lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma. V.1.2018. Accessed at www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/pdf/waldenstroms.pdf on June 21, 2018.
Rajkumar SV, Dispenzieri A. Chapter 104: Multiple myeloma and related disorders. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Dorshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff’s Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa. Elsevier: 2014.
Last Revised: July 19, 2018
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