Radiation Therapy for Blood Cancers

Radiation therapy is an important part of blood cancer care. Many people will have some form of radiation as part of their blood cancer treatment plan.

Often paired with chemotherapy, radiation is either noninvasive or minimally invasive. It uses externally applied x-rays to kill cancer cells by damaging their DNA.

Radiation oncologists at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center work with their colleagues in medical oncology. Together, they'll tailor a treatment plan that includes the right form of radiation at the right time.

Treatment approaches and courses vary based on:

  • The type of blood cancer.
  • The spread and stage of disease.
  • Your overall health and treatment goals.

Doctors use radiation therapy as a curative treatment. It can also help manage pain, especially in people with myeloproliferative disorders.

Types of Radiation Therapy Treatment for Blood Cancer

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center's radiation oncologists are among the nation's most experienced in conventional and advanced radiation therapy.

Our large radiation oncology program's wide array of state-of-the-art equipment and techniques ensure you receive optimal blood cancer treatment.

We're leaders in the use of cutting-edge technologies that allow doctors to precisely target cancerous tumors. This level of precision lessens damage to healthy surrounding tissues and may result in fewer treatment-related side effects.

You may need a combined treatment of radiation therapy and chemotherapy to effectively treat your blood cancer.

Our radiation oncologists have broad experience in the following:

  • 3D Conformal Radiation Therapy — this technique shapes the radiation beams to match the shape of the tumor.
  • CyberKnife® — this robotic technology allows the doctor to perform radiosurgery and deliver stereotactic ablative radiation therapy.
  • Gamma Knife® — this radiosurgery approach can reach deep-seated tumors.
  • Image-Guided Radiotherapy — this technique lets the doctor image your tumor or target region before treatment. This helps optimize the accuracy of radiation therapy.
  • Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy — this technology lets radiation oncologists sculpt the edges of the tumor. This reduces damage to nearby healthy tissue and side effects.
  • Trilogy® — this approach allows doctors to target tumors using image-guided technology during treatment.

Receiving Radiation Therapy for Blood Cancer

Depending on the technology and your individual treatment plan, radiation methods and timing may vary.

Each person’s situation is unique.

In general, a course of radiation therapy for blood cancer takes several months to complete. A single session can take about 15 to 30 minutes.

During radiation treatment, you lay in a certain position on the x-ray table as the linear accelerator moves around the target area.

Your radiation oncologist will decide your radiation schedule and how often you will need to repeat treatment.

Side effects of radiation therapy for blood cancer

Some people experience side effects from radiation oncology treatment.

Having radiation along with chemotherapy can magnify side effects.

Your radiation oncologist and the rest of your treatment team will try to reduce your side effects as much as possible.

Contact Us About Radiation for Blood Cancer

Contact UPMC Hillman Cancer Center about radiation or other blood cancer treatment by calling 412-647-2811.

To reach the Mario Lemieux Center for Blood Cancers at UPMC CancerCenter, call 412-864-6600.