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Radioimmunotherapy for leukemia

What is radioimmunotherapy?

A targeted drug therapy, radioimmunotherapy (RIT), combines radiation therapy and immunotherapy. It works by attaching radioactive molecules, called radioisotopes (e.g., Yttrium-90), to monoclonal antibodies to target and destroy cancer cells. By delivering radiation directly to the tumor cells, this type of treatment helps to reduce toxic effects on normal tissues.

Radioimmunotherapy for leukemia

For patients with leukemia, radioimmunotherapy offers the following advantages:

  • The radiotherapeutic antibody targets and then delivers radiation directly to leukemia cells.
  • By targeting radiation directly to leukemia cells, radioimmunotherapy minimizes side effects associated with most high-dose chemotherapy regimens.
  • Radioimmunotherapy is usually delivered over a shorter period of time (seven to nine days), compared to several months with standard chemotherapy.

Radioimmunotherapy may be a promising option for patients with acute leukemia.

Helping you maintain your quality of life

Side effects of radioimmunotherapy for leukemia depend on several factors, including whether you have chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy before receiving radioimmunotherapy.

The most common side effect of radioimmunotherapy is a temporary lowering of blood counts caused by radiation to the bone marrow. This reduction in blood cell counts may cause neutropenia or anemia. Other treatment-related side effects may include fatigue, nausea, weakness, diarrhea or skin rash.

Your care team will provide various integrative oncology services to reduce these side effects and keep you strong throughout your leukemia treatment. Therapies like nutrition therapy, naturopathic medicine, pain management, mind-body medicine and oncology rehabilitation can help keep you nutritionally fortified, increase your energy and improve your overall well-being.

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