What Is Stage 3 Ovarian Cancer?

Updated at: Feb 18, 2012
What Is Stage 3 Ovarian Cancer?

Stage 3 ovarian cancer is the last and the most serious of all stages. During this stage the cancer has spread from the ovaries and pelvic organs into the upper abdomen or lymph nodes.

MiscellaneousWritten by: VishnuPublished at: Feb 18, 2012

Assigning stages for  diseases is done mainly in order to the extent to which the disease has worsened, and in order to evaluate the chances of recovery for the patient. Assigning stages become important especially for cancer related diseases because of the tendency of cancerous cells to undergo metastasis and spread to other parts of the body. All types of cancers are mostly treatable provided they are diagnosed in the early stages of the disease. As time passes by and the disease enters into secondary stages, the chances of survival become bleak.

According to the FIGO staging system, ovarian cancer can be divided into four stages. The disease can be staged based on the information received after surgery and pre treatment diagnosis. In stage 1 of ovarian cancer, the disease is limited to the ovaries, one or both. Benign or malignant tumours could be found either inside the ovaries or on the ovarian wall. In stage 2, the cancerous cells spread to the pelvic region affecting the fallopian tube and the uterus. Positive peritoneal washings could be found in the pelvic extensions in this stage of the disease. But the disease becomes really critical after it enters the third stage.

Research studies have shown that if the diagnosis of ovarian cancer is made after it enters stage 3, the patient becomes very critical and the chances of recovery for the patient become bleak.

In the the third stage, the cancerous cells would have affected the omentum by going beyond the pelvic region. The omentum is the thin layer of fatty tissue that completely covers the organs situated in the abdomen. Usually in stage 3, the cancer would have spread to the organs in the abdomen such as the intestines, or the liver.

Another complication usually found in the diagnosis of stage 3 ovarian cancer is the spread of the cancer into the lymph nodes. This means the cancer cells would have undergone the process of metastases by entering the blood system to spread to the lymph nodes. Stage 3 is where the cancerous cells have effectively spread to the peritoneum and have lead to the growth of metastatic tumours that are no larger than two centimetres, and hence only visible under the microscope.

Treatment of Stage 3 ovarian cancer is limited and removal of the uterus would is the only option left. Hysterectomy, the surgical removal of uterus, is performed on a large scale for women suffering from benign tumours and ovarian cancers. Chemotherapy sessionsare also undertaken after the surgery in order to eliminate any traces of the destructive cancerous cells in the body. It is not uncommon to find a lot of side effects due to this process, and sometimes leads to total exhaustion of the patient.


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