In many cases, ovarian cancer spreads from a single ovary or fallopian tube into the pelvis, abdomen, and uterus before infecting lymph nodes, distant organs, and bones. The longer the ovarian cancer is left to progress and spread, the more organs and lymph nodes will be affected.
The pattern, progression, and spread of ovarian cancer is categorized into different ovarian cancer stages. Stage I ovarian cancer is typically caught in its earliest disease progression. Patients diagnosed with stage I ovarian cancer maintain a very strong likelihood of survival with relatively minimal medical interventions. By comparison, patients diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer have a relatively low survival rate five years after diagnosis. How the disease spreads and when it is caught has a significant impact on disease progression and treatment.
Timeframe of Ovarian Cancer Diagnoses
Most patients with ovarian cancer are not diagnosed until the disease progresses to stage III or IV when symptoms become more noticeable and persistent. At this point, the prognosis and treatment options are much different. At the point that most patients are diagnosed, cancer deposits are found in the abdominal lining.
To stage ovarian cancer, your doctor will look at tumor growth, the spread of the cancer cells, and which organs are impacted. If you have cancer cells in your lungs or lymph nodes, your cancer is in a more advanced stage than if the cancer cells are found to be only in your ovaries or fallopian tubes. After spreading to the fallopian tubes, cancer spreads to nearby lymph nodes and reproductive organs.
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Stages of Ovarian Cancer
If the question is where does ovarian cancer spread first, it should be known that there are different methods used to define stages of ovarian cancer. The American Joint Committee on Cancer’s staging system is widely utilized in clinical practice. The AJCC ovarian cancer stages include:
- I: This early stage of cancer is only in the ovaries or fallopian tubes, without spreading to lymph nodes or other parts of the body.
- IA: A subtype of stage I, the cancer is only found on one ovary or side of the fallopian tube. It otherwise has not spread.
- IB: This is where it is found inside both ovaries or fallopian tubes but not on outer areas of the ovaries or pelvis.
- IC: This is the stage where it is inside both ovaries or fallopian tubes, as well as having cancer cells in the abdomen or pelvis.
- II: Stage II is when it has spread to another pelvic organ, but not the nearby lymph nodes.
- IIA: With this stage, the cancer is in the ovaries or fallopian tubes, as well as the uterus, bladder, colon, rectum, or peritoneal cancer. It is not within the lymph nodes or distant organs.
- IIB: This stage indicates that cancer grew into the uterus or fallopian tubes from the ovaries.
- IIIA1: The cancer is in both ovaries or fallopian tubes or the patient has peritoneal cancer that may have spread into other pelvic organs. It has spread to pelvic lymph nodes.
- IIIA2: This has the same factors as IIIA1, with the exception that small cancer deposits are found in the abdominal lining.
- IIIB: With this stage, the cancer deposits are less than 2 cm and can be seen by a surgeon without the use of laboratory equipment.
- IIIC: The IIIC stage indicates that small cancer deposits can be seen on the liver or spleen.
- IVA: IVA is a serious stage, where cancer cells can be found in the fluid around the lungs, even though there are no other organs or lymph nodes outside of the abdomen with cancer cells.
- IVB: In the most severe stage of ovarian cancer, stage IVB indicates that it has spread to the spleen, liver, lungs, distant lymph nodes, or bones.
This is just a general overview of the stages of ovarian cancer. However, there are many other subtypes of ovarian cancer that could not be listed out in entirety on this list. Your oncologist can provide you with more information about the specific stage of the disease that you have if you are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and are asking, where does ovarian cancer spread first?
Rate of Spread
The rate of ovarian cancer development and spread can vary based on the person. Generally, ovarian cancer spreads quickly. It can progress from the early stages of the disease to the advanced stages of the disease, where the prognosis is not as good. Since most cases of ovarian cancer are diagnosed later, when the symptoms are more obvious, there is an increased likelihood that the condition will be in a later stage. With this knowledge of the rate of spread, it’s important to ask how fast, not just where does ovarian cancer spread first.
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The link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer is heavily researched. If you or someone you know developed ovarian cancer after using talcum powder, you could be entitled to compensation. Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 794-0444 to discuss your case.