Staging determines where the ovarian cancer is found in a women's body. Most ovarian cancers are staged during surgery when tissue samples are taken and examined. But cancers that have spread may be staged using biopsy and CT scans. The stage of your ovarian cancer will be used to determine the best treatments for you.
Gynecologic oncologists / surgical oncologists use the FIGO scale while staging. Here are the main stages:
Stage I: Tumor confined to the ovary or fallopian tube.
Stage II: The cancer is in one or both ovaries or fallopian tubes and has spread to other organs (such as the uterus, fallopian tubes, bladder, the sigmoid colon, or the rectum) within the pelvis. It has not spread to lymph nodes or distant sites.
Stage III: The cancer is in one or both ovaries. And may have spread beyond the pelvis into the lining of the abdomen and/or has spread to lymph nodes in the back of the abdomen
Stage IV: The cancer has spread to the inside of the spleen, liver, lungs, or other organs located outside the peritoneal cavity. This is known as distant metastasis.
For complete staging please see this SGO FIGO staging document :
the ACS web page: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/ovariancancer/detailedguide/ovarian-cancer-staging
The tissue / fluid from the staging process is examined by a pathologist for type (Histologic type) and grade. He/she will describe the cancer as Grade 1, 2 or 3. Grade 1 ovarian cancer tissue is most like ovarian tissue while Grade 3 is irregular and more likely to metastasize. For ovarian cancer you may hear the terms "Low grade" or "High grade" to describe your tissue.
Recurrent ovarian cancer: The cancer has come back after it has been treated. It may appear in other parts of the body, but it is still ovarian cancer.
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