Health Encyclopedia


Health Encyclopedia Home

Radiation Therapy for Ovarian Cancer

Radiation Therapy for Ovarian Cancer

Radiation therapy is one of many options that doctors use to treat ovarian cancer. Radiation therapy, also called radiotherapy, is rarely used in the United States as a primary treatment for ovarian cancer. Other therapies include surgery, chemotherapy, and newer options like hormone therapy and targeted treatments. Each treatment may be used on its own or in combination with others.

Preparing a patient for radiation therapy

Although radiation therapy is not often used to treat ovarian cancer, in some instances, your doctor may recommend it after surgery as a way to rid the pelvic area of potential cancer cells. But even using it for that purpose has been phased out in favor of chemotherapy.

Radiation may  be used to ease pain, bleeding, and other problems caused by the disease, or to shrink tumors in the colon or nearby organs before surgery. You'll want to ask your doctor if radiation therapy is the right choice for you.

How radiation therapy works

Radiation therapy kills cancer cells with the use of high energy X-rays. The type most often used for ovarian cancer is called external beam radiation. In this type of radiation therapy, a machine called a linear accelerator focuses the radiation onto the cancer inside the body.

In the past, two methods of internal radiation therapy were often used for treating ovarian cancer. These were called brachytherapy and radioactive phosphorus, and they involved placing radioactive materials inside the body. Brachytherapy is rarely done anymore, and radioactive phosphorus is no longer used as part of standard treatment for ovarian cancer.

What to expect from radiation therapy

The process of actually receiving radiation therapy is quite easy when compared with many other medical procedures. When it's given, it's not that different from receiving a standard X-ray, and the exposure only lasts a few minutes. In fact, most of your appointment time for radiation therapy will probably be spent getting you in the right position in order to receive the therapy effectively.

Radiation therapy has to be done frequently to be effective. The therapy is typically given five days a week for several weeks in a row. The doctor who will give you radiation therapy is known as a radiation oncologist.

Radiation therapy is usually given at a hospital or clinic. The treatment itself is not painful, although you may feel some side effects from radiation therapy. One of the most common is irritated skin at the radiation site. Your skin may look sunburned for some months or feel dry and extremely tender. Fatigue, nausea, severe abdominal cramps, and diarrhea are other typical symptoms. These tend to fade slowly after treatment.

Be sure to ask your doctor for suggestions to relieve these symptoms, should you experience any. 

Related Items
Content Type 167
  CA 125
Drug Reference
  Dactinomycin, Actinomycin D
  Doxorubicin Liposomal
Cancer Source
  What Is Ovarian Cancer?
  Statistics About Ovarian Cancer
  Am I At Risk for Ovarian Cancer?
  How Can I Prevent Ovarian Cancer?
  Can I Get Checked for Ovarian Cancer Before I Have Symptoms?
  What Are the Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer?
  How Does My Doctor Know I Have Ovarian Cancer?
  Understanding Your Stage of Ovarian Cancer
  Types of Treatment for Ovarian Cancer
  Types of Surgery for Ovarian Cancer
  Chemotherapy for Ovarian Cancer
  Do What You Can to Ease Side Effects of Treatment for Ovarian Cancer
  Fertility Options for Women with Ovarian Cancer
  How to Maintain Emotional Wellness When You Have Ovarian Cancer
  Early Detection and Prevention Are Keys to Gynecological Health
  Understanding Your Type of Ovarian Cancer
  FDA-Approved Drugs
Cancer FAQs
  Frequently Asked Questions About Ovarian Cancer
  Reproductive Cancers Quiz
  Ovarian Cancer Risk Assessment
Daily News Feed
  Family History of Cancer May Raise Risk for Other Types of Tumors
  More Women Consider Gene Test After Angelina Jolie Mastectomy Revelation
  New Hope for Early Detection of Ovarian Cancer
  Most Women Don't Understand Their Breast Cancer Risk: Survey
  New Test May Help Predict Survival From Ovarian Cancer
  Only High-Risk Women Need Breast Cancer Gene Test: Experts
  Intravenous Vitamin C May Boost Chemo's Cancer-Fighting Power
  Daily Aspirin May Guard Against Ovarian Cancer
  Avastin Shows Mixed Results Against Different Cancers
  Ovarian Cancer Gene May Point to Early Removal of Ovaries: Study
  Excess Weight a Risk Factor for Ovarian Cancer: Report
  Whole-Genome Scans Not Quite Ready for Widespread Use: Study
  For Women's Cancers, Where You're Treated Matters
  Could Daughter's Cancer Risk Be Affected by Father's Age at Birth?
  Irregular Periods May Be Risk Factor for Ovarian Cancer, Study Suggests
  Cheaper 'Gene Panel' Screening May Reveal Cancer Risks
  Pair of Pills Shows Promise for Recurrent Ovarian Cancer
  Most Women Don't Need Regular Pelvic Exams, New Guidelines State
  'Generally Reassuring' Findings on Fertility Drugs, Women's Cancers
Adult Diseases and Conditions
  Ovarian Cancer
  Ovarian Cancer as Part of Lynch Syndrome
  Genetics of Ovarian Cancer
  Hereditary Breast Ovarian Cancer Syndrome (BRCA1/BRCA2)