by EBSCO Medical Review Board

Radiation therapy is a way to treat cancer. External beam radiation comes from a machine outside of the body. Short bursts of x-rays are aimed at tumors inside the body.

Radiation may be used to treat problem areas if chemotherapy does not work. It may be used to:

  • Ease problems caused by a tumor that returns to one site
  • Treat one plasmacytoma, a type of tumor that grows in the soft tissue or bones
  • Treat collapsed bones in the spine that cause numbness, tingling, or weak muscles
  • Clear the body of all cancer before a transplant

Radiation can also be used to ease bone pain. But, it can also cause more damage to the bones and bone marrow. This treatment may not be helpful for everyone.


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Radiation therapy. Leukemia & Lymphoma Society website. Available at: Accessed May 2, 2019.

Radiation therapy for multiple myeloma. American Cancer Society website. Available at: Updated February 28, 2018. Accessed May 2, 2019.

Treatment option overview. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: Updated April 9, 2019. Accessed May 2, 2019.

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