Radiation Therapy for Endometrial Cancer


Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells. It can be given internally or externally.

  • External beam radiation therapy (EBRT) - Radiation from a high-energy x-ray machine (linear accelerator) outside the body is focused on the cancer cells. EBRT can harm both the cancer cells and nearby healthy tissue. Most women are treated with EBRT for a few minutes 5 days a week for 4 or 5 weeks as an outpatient.
  • Internal radiation therapy (brachytherapy or interstitial radiation therapy) - Small pellets (or “seeds”) that contain radioactive materials are placed in your body through the vagina so that they are in or near the tumor. The radioactive pellets release their radiation slowly over time. Brachytherapy lets the doctor use a higher dose of radiation than EBRT without damaging nearby areas, such as the bladder and rectum, but it can only be used to treat a small area of the body. This procedure is done about 4 to 6 weeks after hysterectomy in the radiation suite of a hospital or cancer care center. Brachytherapy is sometimes used when only the upper third (vaginal cuff) of the uterus needs to be treated. You may need several treatments.

Women with endometrial cancer are often treated with both internal and external radiation therapy. The radiation therapy may be given before surgery to shrink the tumor or after surgery to destroy any cancer cells that are still in the area. Radiation therapy is also used to treat women who cannot have surgery.

This content has been reviewed and approved by Myo Thant, MD.

This content was last reviewed August 15, 2010 by Dr. Reshma L. Mahtani.
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