Total Body Irradiation

What Is Total Body Irradiation?

Total body irradiation is a type of radiation therapy that delivers radiation to the entire body. It is commonly used for the treatment of certain blood cancers before a bone marrow transplant. In combination with chemotherapy, total body irradiation destroys diseased bone marrow and cancer cells that are hidden in areas, such as the central nervous system or testes.

Doctors may also use total body irradiation to suppress or lower a patient's immune system so new bone marrow can grow.

What to Expect

Total body irradiation is a painless inpatient procedure. You will be asked to lie very still on an exam table. Although you will be alone in the room during treatment, a radiation therapist will monitor you on a screen outside the room. You may speak with the radiation therapist using a speaker.

You will not be radioactive after you leave the room.

Possible Side Effects

Because no two people respond in the same way to radiation therapy, we will discuss potential side effects with you. In some cases, medication is given prior to total body irradiation to prevent or relieve certain side effects.

Some common side effects may include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Drop in blood cell counts
  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Nausea/vomiting

Cancers Treated