Question asked by: 
Attendee of Ask the Experts event, Manchester
Date asked: 
Jun 2014
Why can’t you use radiotherapy for treating ovarian cancer?
The reason that we don’t use radiotherapy is that, broadly speaking, it’s not effective.
Response by Professor Richard Edmondson, Professor of Gynaecological Oncology

It causes mayhem in the abdominal cavity. In the course of my career I can think of some patients who benefited from radiotherapy for specialised reasons, for example you could irradiate an isolated mass in the vagina or there was a recurrence that you felt was localised and you could really get some radiation on it. 

Ovarian cancer tends to be a disseminated type of disease and if you start irradiating the abdomen you can get all sorts of radiation effects in the abdomen and the abdominal contents and it’s not particularly radio-sensitive. There were trials in the late seventies and eighties looking to see whether whole abdominal radiation was effective but broadly speaking it’s become discredited.