Radiotherapy treats myeloma by using high energy rays which destroy the cancer cells while doing as little harm as possible to normal cells.
Myeloma is very sensitive to radiotherapy, which is usually given to specific bones when the myeloma cells have created a weak area causing pain and sometimes a risk of bones breaking. This treatment can be very effective at relieving the pain and allowing the bones to repair themselves. You may only need one or two treatments. Your pain should improve within 2-3 weeks.
In advanced disease, if chemotherapy is no longer being effective, radiotherapy is given to the whole body, half at a time, in two sessions several weeks apart. This may help greatly in reducing symptoms, and control the disease for some time.
Radiotherapy may also sometimes be used as preparation for a stem cell transplant.
Radiotherapy is given in the hospital radiotherapy department. How the treatment is given can vary a lot, depending on your particular needs. If you only need one or two treatments, you may not need a long appointment first to plan the treatment. If you are having a longer course of treatment, you will need to go to the hospital before your treatment starts so that the area to be treated and the dose to be given can be worked out very accurately. Normally, if you are having a course of treatment, it is given daily, from Monday to Friday, with a rest at the weekend.
Radiotherapy for myeloma only occasionally causes side effects such as nausea and vomiting. If these do occur they can easily be treated, so do tell your doctor or nurse. Any side effects should disappear once your course of treatment is over, but do let your doctor know if they continue.
Radiotherapy can make you feel very tired, so try to get as much rest as you can, especially if you have to travel a long way each day for your treatment.