Radiation therapy for acute myelogenous leukemia
Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays or particles to destroy cancer cells. It is sometimes used to treat acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). Your healthcare team will consider your personal needs to plan the type and amount of radiation, and when and how it is given. You may also receive other treatments.
Radiation therapy is given for different reasons. You may have radiation therapy to:
- the whole body (called total body irradiation) to prepare for a stem cell transplant
- treat a buildup of leukemia cells outside the bone marrow
- relieve pain if the leukemia has spread to an area of bone
- the brain (called total brain irradiation) to treat leukemia that has spread to the
central nervous system(CNS)
External beam radiation therapy @(Model.HeadingTag)>
External beam is the type of radiation therapy used to treat AML. During external beam radiation therapy, a machine directs radiation through the skin to the tumour and some of the tissue around it.
Side effects @(Model.HeadingTag)>
Side effects can happen with any type of treatment for AML, but everyone’s experience is different. Some people have many side effects. Other people have few or none at all.
During radiation therapy, the healthcare team protects healthy cells in the treatment area as much as possible. But damage to healthy cells can happen and may cause side effects. Side effects can happen any time during, immediately after or a few days or weeks after radiation therapy. Sometimes late side effects develop months or years after radiation therapy. Most side effects go away on their own or can be treated, but some side effects may last a long time or become permanent.
Side effects of radiation therapy will depend mainly on the size of the area being treated, the specific area or organs being treated, the total dose of radiation and the treatment schedule. Some common side effects of radiation therapy used for AML are:
- skin problems
- hair loss
- loss of appetite
- nausea and vomiting
- low blood cell counts (called bone marrow suppression)
- neurological changes (with symptoms including memory loss, speech problems, problems with balance and coordination)
- somnolence syndrome (a group of symptoms including drowsiness, confusion, lack of energy and headache)
- earaches or difficulty hearing
Tell your healthcare team if you have these side effects or others you think might be from radiation therapy. The sooner you tell them of any problems, the sooner they can suggest ways to help you deal with them.
American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). Leukemia - Acute Myeloid - AML: Treatment Options. Alexandria, VA.: American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO); 2013: http://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/leukemia-acute-myeloid-aml/treatment-options.
Kebriaei P, Champlin R, de Lima M, et al . Management of acute leukemias. DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, & Rosenberg SA. Cancer: Principles & Practice of Oncology. 9th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2014: 131: pp. 1928-1954.
Kurtin SE . Leukemia and myelodysplastic syndromes. Yarbro, CH, Wujcki D, & Holmes Gobel B. (eds.). Cancer Nursing: Principles and Practice. 7th ed. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett; 2011: 57: pp. 1369-1398.
Wiernik PH . Diagnosis and treatment of adult acute myeloid leukemia other than acute promyelocytic leukemia. Wiernik PH, Goldman JM, Dutcher JP & Kyle RA (eds.). Neoplastic Diseases of the Blood. 5th ed. Springer; 2013: 22: pp. 375-401.