What Happens During Radiation Therapy for CML
Radiation therapy uses X-rays or another source to kill cancer cells. It is rarely used to treat chronic myeloid leukemia (CML).
However, it may be used to ease symptoms, such as pain or pressure on organs or for other reasons such as:
Your symptoms aren’t responding to other treatments. For instance, you may have a swollen spleen pressing against another organ, such as your stomach. This can cause a lack of appetite. In this case, radiation can be used to reduce swelling if it is not responding to other therapies. Radiation can also help with bone pain caused by the leukemia spreading to the bone.
When you do get it for CML, you get radiation directed at you from a machine. This is called external radiation.
A doctor who specializes in cancer and radiation is called a radiation oncologist. This doctor will work with you to determine what kind of radiation you need. This doctor will also determine the dose and how long you need the therapy.
At the start of the treatment session, you’ll lie on a table while the machine is placed over you. You may have to wear a hospital gown. The experience is much like that of getting an X-ray, only longer. A radiation therapist may place blocks or special shields to protect parts of your body that don’t need to be exposed to radiation. The therapist will then line up the machine. When you are ready, the therapist will leave the room and turn the machine on. You may hear whirring or clicking noises while the radiation is being given. During the session, you will be able to talk to the therapist over an intercom. You can’t feel radiation, so the process will be painless. You may need to be in the radiation room for 20 to 30 minutes for each treatment, but you are exposed to radiation for only a few minutes. You will not be radioactive afterward.