Ovarian Cancer - Stages

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What stage was your ovarian cancer when you were diagnosed?

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How is ovarian cancer staging determined?

Staging is the process of classifying a tumor according to the extent to which it has spread in the body at the time of diagnosis.

Ovarian cancer staging:

  • Stage 1: Limited to one or both ovaries
  • Stage 2: Limited to disease in the pelvis
  • Stage 3: Disease outside of the pelvis, but limited to the abdomen, or lymph node involvement, but not including the inside of the liver
  • Stage 4: Disease spread to the liver or outside of the abdomen

Complete staging of an ovarian cancer includes hysterectomy, removal of the ovaries, tubes, pelvic and aortic lymph node biopsies or dissection, the omentum (a large fatty structure that provides support for abdominal organs), and peritoneal (lining tissue of the abdomen) biopsies.

Ovarian cancer staging is determined surgically, unless it is stage 4 (metastasis outside of the abdomen, or metastasis to the liver -- not on the surface of the liver). If it is stage 4, or very advanced stage 3, then often this is proven with biopsy, and chemotherapy is begun neoadjuvantly (before surgery). If the disease does not present with obvious stage 4 disease, then aggressive surgical staging and debulking (see next section) is often considered. This decision is based on the health of the patient, as well as the judgment of the surgeon as to the chance of achieving an optimal debulking (see treatment below).

If medically feasible, apparent early stage cancers should be staged thoroughly. This is due to the fact that of clinical stage 1 tumors, greater than 30% will have metastatic disease on formal staging. This knowledge can lead to treatment recommendations that might not otherwise be made.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: Issie, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: January 08

I had ovarian cancer the first time in March 2010, stage 2C. I received chemotherapy for 5 treatments. I get a blood test every 3 months for CA125. My numbers were 8 for 3 years. In May my CA125 was 14, I was concerned but doctor was not. Two months later my CA125 was 15, once again I was concerned my doctor was not. I was lucky in an unlucky way that I had bladder cancer in 2001 because my other doctor ordered a CT scan. I had surgery in August, my ovarian cancer had returned, stage 2C. I now take chemotherapy pills, etoposide for 6 months. The first time I had ovarian cancer my number was 17; that should have been a sign to test me, needless to say I changed my doctor, and will finish my chemotherapy in February. I am not angry, just happy I listened to myself to get my test and survived cancer a 3rd time.

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Comment from: Kerry, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: March 03

I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in late April 2011 after being sent to a hospital in Bunbury to have my appendix out. I was working up to that day. When I woke up saw the wound, I knew it was more than my appendix. A couple of days after the operation the doctor told me I had ovarian cancer. I was flown to Perth about 2 weeks later. The wound was infected and there was a lot of fluid to drain out. My appendix had not been removed because the surgeon in Bunbury could not find it due to the cancer. On the 3rd of May, the surgeon operated and removed a large amount of my small bowel, appendix, ovary, fallopian tube and the omentum. After the operation, he was able to confirm that I had Stage 3B grade 1 serous ovarian and peritoneal cancer. I had to be resuscitated the next day as I started to have internal bleeding. This required two blood transfusions. I was in terrible pain. After 9 days in hospital, I went with a gaping hole in my stomach with a drainage bag as the wound would not heal. It took almost three months for my wound to heal. In all, I had 8 rounds of very aggressive chemotherapy and finished on November 2011 and I went into remission from the cancer. I am so grateful to be alive.

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