Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Cancer of the Ovary Staging

In order to properly treat ovarian cancer, the type, size and extent of spread must be determined in a woman with ovarian cancer. Some of these important factors are listed below:

Staging Ovarian Cancer
Staging is mainly based on the extent of spread of the tumor. This gives a Stage 1-4 (I-IV) classification. This is often combined with a TNM system, for Tumor, Nodes and Metastases.

Cell Type
Cell type is a distinction that is made by the pathologist by viewing a sample of cancer tissue under a microscope. Ovarian cancer fall into one of three main tumor cell types:

  • Epithelial cells (90%)
  • Germ cells (3-4%)
  • Stromal cells (6%)

Tumor Grade
Pathologists will grade tumors on the basis of how well or poorly organized they appear to be under a microscope. The higher-grade cancers tend to be poorly organized and do not resemble normal ovarian tissue.

Ovarian tumors are graded on a scale of 1, 2, or 3. Grade 1 tumors more closely resemble normal tissue and have a better overall prognosis than Grade 3 tumors, which tend to be very poorly organized.

Stage 1
In stage 1 (I), the cancer is confined to one or both ovaries.

Stage 2
In stage 2 (II), the cancer has spread outside the ovaries, but remains in the pelvis.

Stage 3
In stage 3 (III), the cancer has spread beyond the pelvis to the abdominal organs.

Stage 4
In stage 4 (IV), the cancer has spread to distant organs.

Continue to Cancer of the Ovary Treatment

Last Updated: Jun 20, 2008 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Cancer of the Ovary References
  1. Boente MP, Hamilton TC, Godwin AK, Buetow K, Kohler MF, Hogan WM, Berchuck A, Young RC. Early ovarian cancer: a review of its genetic and biologic factors, detection, and treatment. Curr Probl Cancer. 1996 Mar-Apr;20(2):83-137. [8731031]
  2. Johnston SR. Ovarian cancer: review of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidance recommendations. Cancer Invest. 2004;22(5):730-42. [15581055]
  3. Rosen B, Kwon J, Fung Kee Fung M, Gagliardi A, Chambers A; Cancer Care Ontario's Practice Guidelines Initiative Gynecology Cancer Disease Site Group. Systematic review of management options for women with a hereditary predisposition to ovarian cancer. Gynecol Oncol. 2004 May;93(2):280-6. [1509993]
  4. Wolf JK, Jenkins AD. Gene therapy for ovarian cancer (review). Int J Oncol. 2002 Sep;21(3):461-8. [12168087]
  5. Young M, Plosker GL. Paclitaxel: a pharmacoeconomic review of its use in the treatment of ovarian cancer. Pharmacoeconomics. 2001;19(12):1227-59. [11772158]
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