Radiation Therapy

Radiation Therapy

Your child’s doctors may recommend radiation therapy if your child’s leukemia has spread to the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), or to the testicles in boys. 

Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells called external-beam radiation. 
Your child will receive this treatment outside the body. The dose of radiation travels through the outer structures, such as the skin and the skull, into deeper areas of the body. (For other types of cancer, radiation is sometimes given internally, through implanted radioactive “seeds” or other methods.)

Seattle Cancer Care Alliances’s childhood leukemia patients receive radiation therapy at UW Medical Center.

Side Effects

Side effects of radiation therapy range from fatigue and skin irritation to upset stomach and loose bowel movements. Most go away after treatment is finished. Long-term side effects may include learning disabilities. Your doctor will talk to you more thoroughly about side effects and treatments for them.