Radiotherapy treats myeloma by using high energy rays to 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 effective at relieving the pain and allowing the bones to repair themselves. Only one or two treatments may be required, and pain should improve within 2-3 weeks.
In advanced disease, if chemotherapy is no longer effective, radiotherapy may be given to the whole body, half at a time, in two sessions several weeks apart. This may help 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, depending on the specifications of the disease Normally, treatment is given daily, from Monday to Friday, with a rest on the weekend.
Radiotherapy for myeloma only occasionally causes side effects such as nausea and vomiting. If these do occur, they can easily be treated by speaking to a doctor or nurse. Any side effects should disappear once the course of treatment is over.