is the use of penetrating beams of high-energy waves or streams of particles called radiation to treat disease. Radiation therapy destroys the ability of cancer cells to grow and divide.
There are a few cases in which radiation may be used to treat multiple myeloma:
- If the tumor returns to one site and is causing symptoms
- If a compression fracture in the spine is pressing against the spinal cord
- If a bone marrow transplant is to be done—Total body radiation may be given prior to this procedure to eliminate the myeloma cells and prepare the bone marrow for transplantation of the new, healthy stem cells.
External radiation is used to treat multiple myeloma. In external radiation therapy, rays are directed at the tumor from outside the body. Treatments are given at a hospital or radiation center once a day, five days per week. The daily time spent receiving external therapy is short.
Radiation therapy does not cure multiple myeloma, but may be able to decrease symptoms.
American Cancer Society website. Available at:
Cancer Medicine e5. 5th ed. Hamilton, Ontario: BC Decker Inc; 2000.
National Cancer Institute website. Available at:
Rakel R. Bope E, ed.
Conn's Current Therapy 2002. 54th ed. St. Louis, MO: WB Saunders Company; 2002: 439-443.
Last reviewed September 2014 by Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
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