by Pollock J

Radiation therapy uses special x-rays. It destroys cancer cells and shrinks tumors. It is not used as much as it used to be for ovarian cancer. However, it may be used:

  • After surgery—to make sure all cancer cells are destroyed
  • To ease pain or other symptoms caused by tumors

External Beam Radiation Therapy

This treatment gives short bursts of x-rays. A machine aims x-rays at the cancer. A series of treatments are given for several weeks.

Radiation of a Tumor
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Some radiation therapy uses 3-dimensional (3-D) technology. It may be intensity modulated treatment (IMRT) radiation therapy. The beams surround all sides of the tumor. This sends more intense radiation to the tumor. It also decreases side effects and harm to the healthy tissue. IMRT may not be found in some areas.

Intraperitoneal Radiation Therapy

This treatment uses a tube (catheter). The tube sends radioactive liquid to the belly cavity. The liquid coats the cancer cells and kills them. This method may be used if:

  • Ovarian cancer is advanced or comes back
  • Chemotherapy does not help

Whole Brain Radiation Therapy

This is a special type of radiation. It is given when ovarian cancer has spread to:

  • The brain
  • The spinal cord—or brain and spinal fluid

Side Effects and Management

Effects of radiation therapy may be:

  • Vaginal irritation
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Infertility—There may be options to preserve fertility before treatment
  • Bladder irritation
  • Bowel blockage (intraperitoneal radiation therapy).

Other side effects may include :

  • Dry, irritated skin
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Tiredness from anemia
Sometimes treatment doses can be adjusted. It is helpful to talk to the doctor about side effects early. This makes them more likely to be controlled.


Ovarian cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed March 28, 2022.

Ovarian cancer. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: Accessed March 28, 2022.

Radiation therapy for ovarian cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: Accessed March 28, 2022.

Treatment option overview. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: Accessed March 28, 2022.

Yang H, Zhang K, et al. Clinical analysis of conformal and intensity-modulated radiotherapy in patients with recurrent ovarian cancer. Sci Rep. 2020;10(1):17172.

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