STAGES OF OVARIAN CANCER

If you have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, one of the first things you will want to know is the stage of the cancer, which refers to how much it has grown and how far it has spread. The prognosis and stage of the cancer will determine what treatment options are available.

Ovarian cancer is classified into four stages, with stage 4 being the most advanced.

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Stage 1 – the cancer is confined to one or both ovaries. This is subdivided into three groups:
1a – the cancer is contained inside just one ovary
1b – the cancer is contained inside both ovaries
1c – the cancer is contained in one or both ovaries, and either a) some cancer is found on the surface of one or both ovaries, b) cancer cells are found in fluid extracted from inside the abdomen during surgery, or c) the ovary bursts during or before surgery.

Stage 2 – the cancer is in one or both ovaries and has spread to the uterus, fallopian tubes or other areas in the pelvis. This is subdivided into three groups:
2a – the cancer has spread to the uterus, the fallopian tubes, or both.
2b – the cancer has spread into other tissues in the pelvis, such as the bladder, rectum or sigmoid colon.
2c – the cancer is classified as either 2a or 2b, and either a) some cancer is found on the surface of one or both ovaries, b) cancer cells are found in fluid extracted from inside the abdomen during surgery, or c) the ovary bursts during or before surgery.

Stage 3 – the cancer is in one or both ovaries and has either a) spread to the peritoneum (the lining of the abdomen), or b) to the retroperitoneal lymph nodes (in the back of the abdomen), groin or behind the uterus. Most ovarian cancers are diagnosed at this stage. This is subdivided into three groups:
3a – tissue taken from the peritoneum shows small deposits of cancer cells
3b – tumor growths 2cm or smaller are identified in the peritoneum
3c – tumor growths larger than 2cm are found in the peritoneum or lymph nodes.

Stage 4 – the cancer involves one or both ovaries and has spread to other organs outside the peritoneal cavity (such as the lungs, liver, brain, or bones). This is the most advanced stage of ovarian cancer.