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MRO–Advanced radiation therapy for ovarian cancer, that’s close to home

If you’ve been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, you can find leading-edge technology and therapy close to home, at Minneapolis Radiation Oncology. MRO is the Twin Cities’ leading provider of advanced radiation therapy for cancer, with 11 locations across the Twin Cities, Brainerd Lakes Area, and Western Wisconsin. Since 1981, our radiation oncology specialists have treated over 100,000 patients – more than any other clinic in Minnesota.

According to the American Cancer Society, ovarian cancer affects roughly one in 75 women. It may occur in women of any age, but it’s most common in women over the age of 50.

At Minneapolis Radiation Oncology, we understand the uncertainty that comes with an ovarian cancer diagnosis. Our MRO radiation oncologists provide a level of expertise that comes from working exclusively with radiation cancer treatments every day. Our care teams are committed to helping you understand the complexities of the disease and how radiation treatment may help you. Count on the cancer specialists at MRO to be here for you, with care, comfort, and compassion.

“An important part of my job is helping my patients to understand their unique situations and available treatment options. I am proud that MRO’s cutting-edge technology allows us to create the best individual treatment plans to attack cancer and minimize the side effects as much as possible. Working as a team, our highly trained staff has many years of experience and is an important part of MRO’s caring culture.”
Kirsten Erickson, MD
MRO

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What is ovarian cancer?

Ovarian cancer originates when cells grow out of control in the ovaries, which produce eggs, and the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Symptoms of ovarian cancer are often vague, and because of this, ovarian cancer may go undetected until the later stages. By then, it may spread, or metastasize, to other areas of the pelvis or abdomen.

Types of ovarian cancer

There are more than 30 different types of ovarian cancer. Most are identified based on the name of the cell in which the cancer originated. Ovarian tumors develop most commonly in the epithelial cells in the outer layer of the ovary. Although most of these tumors are benign, cancerous epithelial tumors account for 85% to 90% of ovarian cancers and often spread elsewhere.

Primary peritoneal carcinoma and fallopian tube cancer are similar to epithelial ovarian cancer. Both are often treated with the same techniques.

Making the best treatment choice for you

When you talk to your doctor about treatment options, ask if MRO is the right choice for you and get a referral.

Why choose radiation therapy?

Radiation therapy is not often used as the main treatment for ovarian cancer; generally aggressive chemotherapy is the primary treatment. But your oncologist may recommend radiation therapy for ovarian cancer in cases where the cancer has spread.

Radiation technology is proven effective

At MRO, we use radiation, or radiotherapy, to kill cancer cells. Using state-of-the-art imaging technologies such as MRI, CT, and PET, your MRO care team can pinpoint radiation doses down to the millimeter.

There are several different techniques used in ovarian cancer treatment. But each treatment directs precise doses of radiation at cancer cells, which are more susceptible to radiation than healthy cells. Like an x-ray, radiation therapy is painless. There’s no fear of becoming radioactive during or after treatment.

When radiation therapy is a treatment option for you, your MRO care team will work closely with your oncology care team to keep you and your family fully informed about ovarian cancer and treatment options.

Radiation treatment options for ovarian cancer

At MRO, you have access to some of the most advanced technology available for cancer treatment. Our radiation oncologists, dosimetrists, and physicists will provide you with a personalized treatment plan to help you get the treatment you need and get you back to your life.

External Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT) is the most common form of ovarian cancer radiation treatment. Using a machine called a linear accelerator, MRO radiation oncologists direct high-energy radiation beams to the exact location of the cancer.

Brachytherapy, also known as internal radiation, is also used for ovarian cancer in rare cases. Instead of aiming radiation beams from outside the body, radioactive ‘seeds’ or pellets are placed inside the body, near the cancer.

Your treatment is a team effort

We’ll start with a consultation appointment lasting one or two hours. During that time, you’ll meet with a radiation oncologist. Once the radiation oncologist has examined you, he or she will discuss treatment options and the pros and cons of radiation treatment for you. A radiation therapy nurse will also be there to help explain treatment, discuss how often radiation therapy is given, and provide information on how to take care of yourself during treatment.

Since radiation therapy for cancer requires the utmost precision, you’ll also go through a simulation at the MRO Therapy Center. Using image mapping as a guide, your care team will position you as you would be for treatment and take measurements to build a targeted treatment plan and pinpoint the radiation for the best possible outcome.

For questions to ask your provider, see our FAQ page.

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We make treatment as easy as possible, so you can get back to living your life

Although each patient’s journey is different, most women with ovarian cancer receive radiation treatment five days a week, for several weeks. Your own treatment will depend on the type of tumor you have, where it’s located, and what type of technology we’ll be using.

Your MRO radiation oncologist will determine the dosage, technique, and type of radiation to be used for your treatment, at the clinic that’s most convenient for you. You’ll also meet with your physician each week to monitor your progress, and touch base with your nurse, who can answer any questions you may have.

“Radiation oncology is my passion, as is helping others. I have a multi-cultural background and I understand how differently diverse cultural groups approach a cancer diagnosis. My goal is to provide the best, most compassionate care, in a way that’s appropriate to my patients’ needs.”
Raul Fernandez-Gonzalez, MD
MRO | Unity
MRO | Fairview Ridges

Managing side effects of radiation therapy for ovarian cancer

Your MRO care team will talk with you about the possible side effects of your radiation therapy regimen. Some common side effects include:

  • Fatigue
  • Skin irritation in the treated area may look and feel sunburned or even blister and peel
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Vaginal irritation, sometimes with a discharge (if the pelvis is being treated)

These side effects improve after treatment is stopped. Skin changes will gradually fade, and the skin returns to normal in six to 12 months.

How to care for yourself during treatment

At MRO, we understand that there’s more to recovery than medical treatment. And while radiation therapy itself may be painless, it impacts your body in ways that you can’t always see. In order to keep your body strong, we encourage you to be active in caring for yourself. Here’s a list of things you can do to get the most out of life during treatment:

  • Drink plenty of fluids and eat a healthy diet.

  • Listen to your body. Don’t push yourself too hard, and rest when you’re tired. You will probably be sleeping more than normal, and that is okay.

  • Be kind to the skin near your treatment area. Wash the area with mild soap and water, and do not put hot or cold packs on the skin. Contact your MRO care team before using lotions or ointments.

  • Find a support group or seek out help to manage the stress that comes with cancer treatment and cancer diagnosis.

  • Make sure to tell your doctor about any medicines or supplements you take to ensure the medications are safe to use during treatment.

  • Follow your doctor’s orders and contact your MRO care team with any questions.

Life after treatment

Living with ovarian cancer can mean changes in your lifestyle and finding the quality of life that suits you best. After you’ve completed treatment, you’ll have follow-up visits with your MRO radiation oncologist and the doctor who referred you to MRO, especially in the first few months after treatment, to make sure there is no progression or recurrence. During this time, it’s important to report any new symptoms to your doctor right away, so the cause can be found and treated.

Follow-up care varies from patient to patient, but your doctor will probably recommend you have a physical exam and pelvic exam every two to four months for the first couple of years after treatment, then every three to six months or so for the next few years. Follow-up for ovarian cancer usually includes blood tests for tumor markers or hormones that help recognize recurrence.

Your physician may also recommend home care, occupational or vocational therapy, pain management, physical therapy, and participation in support groups.

For more information, visit our resources page.