For most types of leukemia, radiation therapy is generally not recommended as a primary form of treatment. Unlike many other forms of cancer, leukemia does not usually produce well-defined tumors that can be easily targeted with high-energy beams. Instead, the cancerous cells develop in the bone marrow and travel to various areas throughout the body. In most cases, this makes both radiation therapy and surgical removal impractical for treatment purposes.
Nevertheless, a patient who has been diagnosed with leukemia may receive radiation therapy for other reasons, such as:
- To destroy cancerous cells that have spread to the brain, spinal fluid or spleen, or accumulated in large quantities in specific areas of the body
- To prepare the patient’s body for stem cell transplantation
- To shrink swollen lymph nodes
- To help reduce bone pain if chemotherapy is ineffective for this purpose
- To address cancerous cells that have amassed near the patient’s trachea and are causing breathing problems
If the multispecialty team of experts in Moffitt Cancer Center’s Malignant Hematology Program prescribes radiation treatment for a patient who has been diagnosed with leukemia, our skilled and experienced radiation oncologists will determine the precise radiation therapy protocol based on the type, location and stage of the patient’s cancer and his or her overall health condition. Each patient receives highly individualized treatment, as well as the benefit of multiple expert opinions without referrals.
At Moffitt, we are committed to improving outcomes and enhancing quality of life for our patients. Through our extensive research initiatives and a robust clinical trials program, we are continually developing new and better treatment options for all forms leukemia. In recognition of our ongoing efforts and notable breakthroughs, we have been designated a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute.