Radiation therapy is used:
- as a first-line treatment for patients whose myeloma is localized or in one area, such as a solitary myeloma and plasmacytoma
- in preparation for stem cell transplant as a conditioning therapy
- for some carefully selected patients whose bone pain doesn't respond to chemotherapy
Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to kill myeloma cells. A machine called a linear accelerator or linac delivers beam radiation to targeted area(s) of your body while you lie on a moveable table. Parts of your body not affected by myeloma, like the reproductive organs, are shielded to help reduce the treatment's side effects. The procedure itself is painless, though some people may feel uncomfortable remaining in the same position for several minutes during the session.
Studies are under way to find more targeted methods to deliver radiation, such as injecting and sending a radioactive isotope attached to a monoclonal antibody to the bones where most myeloma is located.