Ovarian Cancer Home > Ovarian Cancer Stages

There are several stages of ovarian cancer, including stage I, stage II, stage III, and stage IV. The stage of the cancer is determined by tests that indicate if cancer cells have spread within the ovaries or to other parts of the body, such as the liver. By determining which stage a woman has, doctors can plan for and administer the most appropriate treatment method.

An Introduction to the Stages of Ovarian Cancer

After ovarian cancer has been diagnosed, tests are done to find out if cancer cells have spread within the ovaries or to other parts of the body. The process that is used to determine this is called staging. It is important to know the ovarian cancer stage in order to plan the appropriate ovarian cancer treatment.

Ovarian Cancer Staging Tests

Unless a doctor is sure that the ovarian cancer has spread from the ovaries to other parts of the body, surgery is required to determine the stage of ovarian cancer. In most cases, this is done through a procedure called a laparotomy. During a laparotomy, a doctor must cut into the abdomen and carefully look at all the organs to see if they contain cancer.
The doctor will also perform a biopsy (cut out small pieces of tissue so that they can be looked at under a microscope to see whether they contain cancer). In most cases, the doctor will remove the cancer and organs that contain cancer during the laparotomy.

Specific Stages

Once the doctor has completed the ovarian cancer staging tests, he or she will assign the cancer a specific stage. Specific ovarian cancer stages include:
  • Stage I
  • Stage II
  • Stage III
  • Stage IV.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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