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Ovarian Cancer Treatment Radiation Therapy

Ovarian cancer radiation is a way of using radiation therapy techniques to treat ovarian cancer.  It entails the application of a beam of radiation either externally or internally to as much of the cancerous tissue as possible.  The objective is to shrink the tumor so that it can be surgically removed or destroy as many cancer cells as possible either as a primary treatment or a secondary treatment following surgery.  We will discuss some of the common radiation treatment options as well as the benefits and side effects which can occur. 


It should be noted that the primary course of treatment for ovarian cancer is surgical removal of the cancerous tumor.  Ovarian cancer radiation may be used as a way to kill any remaining cancer cells following surgical removal of the tumor. 


But ovarian cancer radiation is not used regularly as a primary mode of treatment because in many cases the ovarian cancer is not diagnosed until it has reached the later stages where it may have spread to surrounding organs.  In order for radiation therapy to be most effective, all the cancer cells present must be within the radiation field.  If the cancer has spread to organs like the liver and kidneys, they may not be able to withstand the dosage level of radiation required to kill the cancer cells. 


However if the tumor is still small to be confined to the ovaries only, then ovary cancer radiation can be an effective option for primary treatment.  


There are two primary kinds of radiation therapy which are used to treat ovarian cancer.  One type called external radiation therapy uses a machine outside of the body which creates a beam of radioactive energy which is directed at the cancer site within the body.  Another type is internal radiation therapy which uses radioactive pellets which are placed in the body close to the cancer site. 


While this type of treatment can have some good success at killing cancer cells in order to reduce the size of a tumor or eliminate it, the treatment does have some undesirable side effects.  If internal radiation is used, it tends to cause abdominal pain or discomfort; nausea; diarrhea, bowel obstruction; and some effect on blood chemistry.  These can often be reduced during therapy with palliative measures.  And external radiation therapy can cause skin irritation, swelling and possibly skin darkening at the area where the beam enters the body. 

If the ovarian cancer has developed into later stage cancer, the ovarian cancer radiation has little benefit in directly addressing the cause of the cancer.  As indicated earlier, it may be too widespread to use this technique to kill all the cancer cells.  However if surgery is still an option, it may be a good way to help to eliminate any remaining cancer cells following surgical removal. 

It may also help to alleviate some of the symptoms of ovarian cancer.  And it may be able to slow the progression of the disease and extend the life of the patient for as long as possible with the best quality of life.