Childhood Cancer

Childhood Leukemia

Chapter 15: Radiation Therapy

“Nothing is so strong as gentleness, and nothing is so gentle as true strength.”

— St. Francis de Sales

RADIATION THERAPY is sometimes used to treat some children with very high-risk leukemia. Radiation to the brain, testes, or whole body can cause mild, short-term side effects, as well as permanent damage that may not be evident until months or years after treatment. The younger the child when treated, the greater the risk for side effects from radiation. For this reason, radiation treatment is avoided or postponed for very young children, and the benefits and risks of this treatment for any child or teen must be carefully weighed by both doctors and parents.

This chapter explains what radiation is, when and how it is used to treat children with leukemia, and its potential side effects. It explains what you and your child can expect from radiation treatment and shares stories from many families whose children were treated with radiation.