Advanced Stages of Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is cancer of the reproductive glands in women that produce eggs. Staging of cancer is a standardized system of describing the spread and extent of the cancer. Accurate staging is important, especially for ovarian cancer, because treatments and prognosis vary according to stage. Surgical staging is typically used for ovarian cancer, since the cancer may be more widespread than originally thought at diagnosis.

Stage IIIA

In Stage IIIA, there is cancer involves the ovaries that is able to be seen with the naked eye, but no grossly visible cancer in the abdomen. When biopsies of the peritoneum (the abdominal lining) are taken, cancer in these tissues is visible under a microscope. There is no cancer found in the lymph nodes.

Stage IIIB

In this sub-stage, cancer involves one or both ovaries, and there is visible ovarian cancer in the abdomen, but these tumors are smaller than 2 cm, according to the American Cancer Society. Cancer has not spread to any lymph nodes yet.

Stage IIIC

Stage IIIC consists of ovarian cancer that is in one or both ovaries, and one or both of the following is also present: cancer is found in the lymph nodes or there are tumors larger than 2 cm in the abdomen. The National Cancer Institute defines Stage IIIC ovarian cancer as ovarian cancer that has also spread to the surface of the liver but not the inside liver tissues.

Stage IV

The most advanced stage of ovarian cancer is Stage IV, and this stage is diagnosed when the cancer has metastasized (spread) to parts of the body outside the abdomen like the lungs, liver or bones. If cancer is found in fluid surrounding the lungs (called pleural effusion), the cancer is also diagnosed as Stage IV.

About this Author

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and women’s studies, Jaime Herndon pursued a Master of Science in clinical health psychology, and recently completed her M.P.H. in maternal-child health from UNC. Her interests include women’s cancers, pediatric oncology, and women’s health.