Ovarian Cancer (cont.)
In this Article
- Ovarian cancer facts*
- What are the ovaries?
- What is ovarian cancer?
- What are risk factors for ovarian cancer?
- Ovarian cancer symptoms
- How is ovarian cancer diagnosed?
- How is staging for ovarian cancer determined?
- What is the treatment for ovarian cancer?
- Treatment methods
- Radiation therapy
- What are the side effects of treatment for ovarian cancer?
- What follow-up care is necessary?
- Where can ovarian cancer patients find support?
- What research is available for ovarian cancer patients?
- What resources are available to patients with ovarian cancer?
- Pictures of Ovarian Cancer - Slideshow
- Take the Ovarian Cancer Quiz
- 15 Cancer Symptoms Women Ignore - Slideshow
- Ovarian Cancer FAQs
- Find a local Oncologist in your town
Radiation therapy (also called radiotherapy) uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. A large machine directs radiation at the body.
Radiation therapy is rarely used in the initial treatment of ovarian cancer, but it may be used to relieve pain and other problems caused by the disease. The treatment is given at a hospital or clinic. Each treatment takes only a few minutes.
Side effects depend mainly on the amount of radiation given and the part of your body that is treated. Radiation therapy to your abdomen and pelvis may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or bloody stools. Also, your skin in the treated area may become red, dry, and tender. Although the side effects can be distressing, your doctor can usually treat or control them. Also, they gradually go away after treatment ends.
NCI provides a booklet called Radiation Therapy and You: A Guide to Self-Help During Cancer Treatment.
What are the side effects of treatment for ovarian cancer?
Ovarian cancer and its treatment can lead to other health problems. You may receive supportive care to prevent or control these problems and to improve your comfort and quality of life.
Your health care team can help you with the following problems:
- Pain: Your doctor or a specialist in pain control can suggest ways to relieve or reduce pain. More information about pain control can be found in the NCI booklets Pain Control: A Guide for People with Cancer and Their Families, Get Relief from Cancer Pain, and Understanding Cancer Pain.
- Swollen abdomen (from abnormal fluid buildup called ascites): The swelling can be uncomfortable. Your health care team can remove the fluid whenever it builds up.
- Blocked intestine: Cancer can block the intestine. Your doctor may be able to open the blockage with surgery.
- Swollen legs (from lymphedema): Swollen legs can be uncomfortable and hard to bend. You may find exercises, massages, or compression bandages helpful. Physical therapists trained to manage lymphedema can also help.
- Shortness of breath: Advanced cancer can cause fluid to collect around the lungs. The fluid can make it hard to breathe. Your health care team can remove the fluid whenever it builds up.
- Sadness: It is normal to feel sad after a diagnosis of a serious illness. Some people find it helpful to talk about their feelings. See the "Sources of Support" section for more information.
You can get information about supportive care on NCI's Web site at http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/coping and from NCI's Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER or LiveHelp (http://www.cancer.gov/help).
Nutrition and physical activity
It's important for women with ovarian cancer to take care of themselves. Taking care of yourself includes eating well and staying as active as you can.
You need the right amount of calories to maintain a good weight. You also need enough protein to keep up your strength. Eating well may help you feel better and have more energy.
Sometimes, especially during or soon after treatment, you may not feel like eating. You may be uncomfortable or tired. You may find that foods do not taste as good as they used to. In addition, the side effects of treatment (such as poor appetite, nausea, vomiting, or mouth sores) can make it hard to eat well. Your doctor, a registered dietitian, or another health care provider can suggest ways to deal with these problems. Also, the NCI booklet Eating Hints for Cancer Patients has many useful ideas and recipes.
Many women find they feel better when they stay active. Walking, yoga, swimming, and other activities can keep you strong and increase your energy. Whatever physical activity you choose, be sure to talk to your doctor before you start. Also, if your activity causes you pain or other problems, be sure to let your doctor or nurse know about it.
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