Radiation therapy for ovarian cancer
Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays or particles to destroy cancer cells. Radiation is rarely used to treat ovarian cancer. It may be used:
- after surgery to destroy cancer cells left behind and to reduce the risk of the cancer recurring (adjuvant radiation therapy)
- occasionally when chemotherapy cannot be used
- For example, radiation therapy may be given to older women or those with another serious illness that prevents the use of chemotherapy.
- to relieve pain or to control the symptoms of advanced ovarian cancer (palliative radiation therapy)
The amount of radiation given during treatment, and when and how it is given, will be different for each person.
External beam radiation therapy
Ovarian cancer is usually treated with external beam radiation therapy. A machine directs radiation to the tumour and some of the surrounding tissue.
Systemic radiation therapy
In systemic radiation therapy, a radioactive material (radioactive isotope) is taken by mouth or is injected into the body. It travels throughout the body and is absorbed by cancer cells. For ovarian cancer, a solution of radioactive phosphorus is instilled (gradually injected) into the abdomen. This treatment was used in the past, but is no longer part of the standard treatment for ovarian cancer.
Treatment given in addition to the first-line therapy (the first or standard treatment) to help reduce the risk of a disease (such as cancer) coming back (recurring).
Adjuvant therapy is often given when doctors do not know for sure if any cancer cells remain in the body after the first-line therapy.
What’s the lifetime risk of getting cancer?
The latest Canadian Cancer Statistics report shows about half of Canadians are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.