Radiation therapy is a treatment for cancer that uses high-energy X-rays. A machine directs the rays of energy to the area of cancer, with a goal to kill or shrink cancer cells.
Radiation therapy is the most common treatment for vulvar cancer, but is also often used along with other treatments like surgery or chemotherapy. Your doctor may advise radiation to:
- Serve as the main treatment, sometimes along with chemotherapy.
- Shrink a tumor to make it easier to operate on before surgery.
- Kill any remaining small areas of cancer following a surgery.
- Treat a single area of cancer spread, such as a tumor in the brain or an adrenal gland. This may be done along with surgery to treat the tumor.
- Relieve symptoms such as pain, bleeding, trouble swallowing, cough, or problems caused by a spread of cancer.
- External beam radiation therapy. This treatment is the most common type of radiation therapy used to treat vulvar cancer. This treatment focuses radiation from outside the body on the cancer in order to eliminate cancer cells.