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Dr. Tsubokura's Radiation Lecture Vol.71

Author: Masaharu Tsubokura

Editors: Akihiko Ozaki M.D., Yuki Senoo

141. Total body irradiation for bone marrow transplantation

The current standard "cancer" treatment consists of the following three types of therapies; surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Several techniques for radiation therapy have been developed to reduce radiation exposure to normal surrounding tissues while concentrating radiation on cancer lesions. For example, the exposure of the lung and heart are avoided in the radiation therapy of breast cancer, and the exposure of the rectum and bladder are avoided in the radiation therapy of prostate cancer.

There is a type of radiation therapy that is given to the entire body. This type of radiation therapy is performed in bone marrow transplantation, a treatment for leukemia, one type of haematological cancer. Because blood is present all over the body, it is not effective enough to irradiate only a part of the patient’s body. In this radiation therapy, the entire body is exposed to a total of 12 sieverts of radiation (12 million microsieverts). divided into six sessions two times a day, in the morning and afternoon, for three days.

This level of radiation exposure is significantly higher compared with the level of radiation we re