Open Access Research article

Defining the optimal dose of radiation in leukemic patients with extramedullary lesions

Jin Ho Song, Seok Hyun Son, Ju Hwan Lee, Su Mi Chung, Hong Seok Jang and Byung Ock Choi*

Author Affiliations

Department of Radiation Oncology, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Korea

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BMC Cancer 2011, 11:428  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-428

Published: 6 October 2011



Analysis of the clinical response of extramedullary lesions in leukemic patients treated with radiation therapy (RT) and defining the optimal dose of radiation.


Forty-two extramedullary lesions found in 24 leukemic patients treated with RT were reviewed. The radiation was delivered usually 2 Gy/day, up to a median of 20 Gy (range: 18.0-40.8). The clinical response and symptom palliation effect were analyzed. The factors affecting the response were also included in the analysis.


After a median time of 7.9 weeks, the overall response rate was 76.2%. A complete response (CR) was achieved in 35.7%, a partial response in 40.5%. The symptom was relieved in 85.7% sites. The overall response rate was better in patients whose initial tumor size was smaller than 10 cm2 (p = 0.010) or who were treated with more than 25 Gy (p = 0.031). The overall CR rate was also higher in those who had smaller tumors (smaller than 6 cm or 30 cm2) (p = 0.015), or when the tumor was located in soft tissue (p = 0.029).


Extramedullary lesions in leukemic patients can be successfully treated with RT. The tumor response rate was excellent and symptom relief was achieved in almost all patients. There was a better response to treatment when the tumor was small or it was located in soft tissue. Although, there was no definite correlation between volume reduction and total dose, it seems that higher total dose more of than 25 Gy is needed for better response.