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Radiation Therapy for Multiple Myeloma

Radiation therapy is the use of penetrating beams of high-energy waves 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.

Type of Radiation Therapy

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.

Revision Information

  • Cancer Medicine e5. 5th ed. Hamilton, Ontario: BC Decker Inc; 2000.

  • Multiple myeloma. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003121-pdf.pdf . Updated July 24, 2012. Accessed December 27, 2012.

  • Multiple myeloma.EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated September 13, 2012. Accessed December 27, 2012.

  • Rakel R. Bope E, ed. Conn's Current Therapy 2002. 54th ed. St. Louis, MO: WB Saunders Company; 2002: 439-443.

  • Treatment option overview. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/types/myeloma/patient/myeloma-treatment-pdq#section/%5F46. Accessed March 4, 2010.