Ovarian Cancer Center

Ovarian Cancer Staging

Ovarian cancer stages
Before treatment for ovarian cancer begins, doctors need to grade the tumor and understand more about the extent (stage) of the disease. The stage of ovarian cancer is based on whether the tumor has invaded nearby tissues, whether the cancer has spread, and if so, to what parts of the body.

Usually, ovarian cancer staging requires surgery. Staging is performed by the surgeon (gynecologic oncologist) when the ovarian cancer is removed. During the procedure, surgeons take tissue samples from biopsies from various sites in the abdominal cavity. During this procedure, depending on the stage (extent) of the disease, the surgeon will either remove just the ovary and fallopian tube or will remove both ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus. In addition, the surgeon will attempt to remove as much of the cancer as possible. At the least, doctors need to take samples of tissue from the pelvis and abdomen to look for cancer.

Staging ovarian cancer
There are four stages of ovarian cancer.

Stage 1 - Cancer cells are found in one or both ovaries but are confined to these locations. Cancer cells may be found on the surface of the ovaries or in fluid collected from the abdomen.

Stage 2 - Cancer cells have spread from one or both ovaries to other tissues in the pelvis, fallopian tubes or uterus. Cancer cells are discovered in fluid collected from the abdomen.

Stage 3 -Cancer cells have spread to tissues outside the pelvis in the abdomen or abdominal lining or to the regional lymph nodes. Cancer cells may be found on the outside of the liver.

Stage 4 - Cancer cells have spread to tissues outside the abdomen and pelvis. Cancer cells may be found inside the liver, in the lungs, or in other organs.

Recurrent - Recurrence of ovarian cancers means that the tumor(s) has/have returned after initial therapy.

- Refractory means that the tumor fails to respond to initial treatment.

Stage 3 is the most common stage when women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer. While you are waiting for testing results it may help to talk to a close friend or relative about how you are feeling. Or you may want to contact a cancer support group to talk to someone who has been through a similar experience. Before starting treatment, you might want a second opinion about diagnosis. Click here to learn more about treatment for ovarian cancer.

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