What is ovarian cancer staging?

Most women after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer have doctors who learn if it has spread beyond the surface of the ovaries and if so, how far. This process is known to be the staging process. The staging process in ovarian cancer helps doctors and patients understand how far the disease has gone, how serious the cancer has become and what is the best way that it can be treated. Doctors also use International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) staging system staging to speak on the survival rates of patients.

The ovarian cancer FIGO staging range from stages I to stage IV(a). The lower the stage number, the less the cancer has spread. The higher the stage number, the more the cancer has spread. Although each patient has a unique cancer experience, cancer at similar stages have similar characteristics and are often given treatment in the similar way. To stage the cancer, tissue samples are taken from parts of the abdomen and pelvis and it is examined in the lab.

How are the stages of ovarian cancer determined?

During the staging process of ovarian cancer, there are two systems that are generally used, FIGO and the AJCC. These two systems use 3 factors to give the various stages of ovarian cancer. The 3 factors used are listed below:

The extent or size of the tumor (T)

The extent or size of the tumor is one of the most important factors of the staging process as it gives an insight into whether the cancer has spread outside the ovary and even if the cancer has reached anywhere close to the pelvic region and abdomen

The spread to lymph nodes that are close by (N)

This factor in the staging process focuses on if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes close by like in the pelvic region and so on.

The metastasis to distant sites (M)

This factor focuses on if the cancer has spread to distant organs such as the liver or bones or even the fluid in the lungs.

What are the different stages of ovarian cancer?

As mentioned earlier, ovarian cancer is categorized into different stages and treatment is given accordingly.

Stage 1

In stage 1 the cancer is confined to the ovaries and has not spread to any other area.

Stage 2

In stage 2, the cancer is still in the ovaries but has also began to spread into the pelvic region and organs.

Stage 3

In this stage, the cancer tumor is in either one of both ovaries but has started spreading farther.

Stage 4

This stage is known to be the most advanced stage and the cancer has spread far beyond the ovaries and has reached areas like the spleen, liver, lungs and other regions that are distant from the region of the actual tumor.

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