Staging ovarian cancer
The stage of a cancer tells the doctor how far it has grown and if it has spread. The tests and scansyou have to diagnose your cancer will give some information about the stage. It is important because your specialist will decide on your treatment according to the stage of your cancer.
Doctors use a simple 1 to 4 staging system for ovarian cancer. It is called the FIGO system after its authors – the International Federation of Gynaecological Oncologists
Stage 1 ovarian cancer means the cancer is only in the ovaries. It is divided into 3 groups
- Stage 1a – the cancer is completely inside one ovary
- Stage 1b – the cancer is completely inside both ovaries
- Stage 1c – as well as cancer in one or both ovaries, there is some cancer on the surface of an ovary or there are cancer cells in fluid taken from inside your abdomen during surgery or the ovary ruptures (bursts) before or during surgery
Stage 2 means the cancer has grown outside the ovary or ovaries and is growing within the area circled by your hip bones (the pelvis). There may also be cancer cells in the abdomen. So stage 2 cancer can be
- 2a – the cancer has grown into the fallopian tubes or the womb
- 2b – the cancer has grown into other tissues in the pelvis, for example the bladder or rectum
- 2c – the cancer has grown into other tissues in the pelvis and there are cancer cells in fluid taken from inside your abdomen
Stage 3 cancer of the ovary means the cancer has spread outside the area surrounded by your hip bones (the pelvis) into the abdominal cavity. Your cancer is also stage 3 if cancer is found in the lymph nodes in your upper abdomen (tummy), groin or behind the womb. So stage 3 cancer can be
- 3a – using a microscope, cancer growths can be seen in tissue taken from the lining of the abdomen
- 3b – there are visible tumour growths on the lining of the abdomen that are 2cm across or smaller
- 3c – there are tumour growths larger than 2cm on the lining of the abdomen, or cancer in lymph nodes in the upper abdomen, groin or behind the womb, or both
Stage 4 ovarian cancer means the cancer has spread to other body organs some distance from the ovaries, such as the liver or lungs. But if ovarian cancer is only found on the surface of the liver and not within the liver itself, then the cancer is still stage 3.