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Palliative Radiation Therapy for Recurrent Ovarian Cancer: Efficacy and Predictors of Clinical Response
  1. Ginger Jiang, BS*,
  2. Tracy Balboni, MD, MPH,,
  3. Allison Taylor, MS,
  4. Joyce Liu, MD§ and
  5. Larissa J. Lee, MD
  1. * Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA;
  2. Department of Radiation Oncology, Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center; and Departments of
  3. Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care and
  4. § Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Larissa J. Lee, MD, Department of Radiation Oncology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, 75 Francis St, ASBI-L2, Boston, MA 02115. E-mail: llee{at}


Objective This study aimed to report response rates and predictors of response to palliative radiotherapy (RT) for recurrent ovarian cancer.

Methods/Materials Database review identified 64 patients with symptomatic ovarian cancer recurrence who received a total of 76 courses of RT for 103 indications from March 2003 to August 2014. Radiotherapy indications were pain (44%), bleeding (32%), obstruction (15%), and other (9%). Responses were categorized as complete, partial, or none; all response (AR) was the sum of complete and partial responses. Response rates were compared using a χ2 test. Multivariate analysis was performed using logistic regression. Patients were followed up for symptom recurrence and death.

Results Response rates were significantly higher for pain (AR, 87%) and bleeding (93%) than for obstruction (62%) and other (60%; P < 0.01). Patients treated for pain at nonbony sites had higher response rates (AR 96%) compared with those treated at bony sites (75%; P = 0.04). Patients with clear cell histology had the lowest response rates (AR, 60%) compared with those with serous (82%), endometrioid (95%), or other Müllerian histology (85%; P = 0.01). Platinum status at diagnosis or the time of RT was not associated with response, nor was tumor size or number of prior chemotherapy regimens. On multivariate analysis, histology, RT indication, and RT dose were independent predictors of response (all P < 0.01).

Conclusions Palliative RT provides relief of pain and bleeding in most patients with ovarian cancer recurrence. Patients with symptomatic obstruction, bony involvement, and clear cell histology may experience lower clinical response rates.

  • Ovarian cancer
  • Radiotherapy
  • Palliation

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  • The authors declare no conflicts of interests.