Pelvic radiotherapy (RT) may help treat a rare form of ovarian cancer that can recur in women after surgery and chemotherapy. These findings were published in the latest issue of the International Journal of Gynecological Cancer (2014; doi:10.1097/IGC.0000000000000270).

“Despite the intense therapeutic and surgical regimen typically used to treat ovarian cancer, outcomes remain poor,” said William Small Jr, MD, chair, Department of Radiation Oncology at Loyola University Health System in Maywood, Illinois. “This study provided encouraging preliminary results for the use of RT in women with ovarian cancer.”

The study evaluated 56 patients with ovarian clear cell adenocarcinoma (CCA), an aggressive form of ovarian cancer that is more likely to be resistant to chemotherapy and to have a poorer prognosis than other forms of this disease.

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The authors noted the propensity for pelvic recurrence after surgery and chemotherapy for ovarian CCA. They explained that pelvic radiotherapy is a local treatment that can effectively sterilize microscopic tumor cells, and that it may benefit patients with this disease.

All but one patient in the study received chemotherapy for a median of six cycles. Six patients received pelvic RT and 50 did not. Ovarian cancer initially recurred in the pelvis of 25% of patients while nearly 11% had disease recurrence outside of the pelvis. Rates of recurrence were 28%, 39%, and 43% at 3-, 5-, and 8-year follow-up points, respectively. The study demonstrated a trend toward a reduction in the incidence of tumor recurrence in patients who had received pelvic RT.

The patients developed mild side effects during radiotherapy, which were rated as grade 1 to 2.

“Pelvic RT after chemotherapy may be more beneficial in treating this form of ovarian cancer compared with other types,” Small said. “However, additional research is needed to further evaluate the therapy for this type of ovarian cancer.”