Once the cancer is detected, your doctor will determine its stage. Usually, the imaging techniques and the microscopic examination of the sample taken during the biopsy allow your physician to determine the stage of the cancer. In general, ovarian cancer develops into four stages:
- Stage I – the cancer is limited to one or both ovaries; cancer cells can be found on the surface of the ovaries or in the abdominal fluid.
- Stage II – the cancer has spread into other pelvic organs: uterus, fallopian tubes, bladder or rectum; cancer cells can be found in the abdominal fluid.
- Stage III – at stage 3, the cancer has spread beyond the pelvis to affect the abdomen (the peritoneum) and nearby lymph nodes.
- Stage IV – at this final stage, the cancer has spread into organs beyond the abdomen; cancer cells may have reached distant organs such as uterus, bladder, bowel, and/or lungs.