Ovarian Cancer Home > Ovarian Cancer Radiation

For women with ovarian cancer, radiation therapy may be prescribed to help control or stop the growth of cancer cells. This form of therapy can either be administered through a machine (external radiation therapy) or injected directly into the abdomen through a catheter (intraperitoneal radiation therapy). The type of ovarian cancer radiation that is prescribed will depend on the location of the tumor and whether it has spread.

An Overview of Ovarian Cancer Radiation

Radiation therapy, also called radiotherapy, involves the use of high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy affects the cancer cells only in the treated area. For ovarian cancer, radiation may come from a machine (called external radiation) or from a radioactive liquid (called intraperitoneal radiation therapy) that is put directly into the abdomen through a catheter (a small, thin tube).

Side Effects From Ovarian Cancer Radiation

Radiation therapy, like chemotherapy, can affect normal as well as cancerous cells. Side effects from ovarian cancer radiation therapy will depend mainly on the ovarian cancer treatment dose and the part of the body that is treated.
Common side effects of radiation therapy to the abdomen include:
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Urinary discomfort
  • Diarrhea.


In addition, the skin in the treated area may become red, dry, and tender.


Intraperitoneal radiation therapy may also cause abdominal pain and bowel obstruction (a blockage of the intestine).
Patients are likely to become quite tired during radiation therapy, especially in the later weeks of treatment. Resting is important, but doctors usually advise patients to try to stay as active as they can.
Although the side effects of radiation therapy can be distressing, doctors can usually treat or help control them.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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