Information About Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer

Submitted by Nic on November 19, 2012

A cancerous growth that begins in the ovaries, ovarian cancer is difficult to detect in the early stages and in its advanced state spreads to the uterus, fallopian tube and pelvis. This type of cancer comes in two forms - ovarian epithelial carcinomas and malignant germ cell tumors. Stage 4 ovarian cancer means that the cancer has reached advanced levels and has spread other areas of the body which could be the insides of the liver, the abdomen and or other areas around the abdominal cavity.

Ovarian cancer is not easy to detect and so it's mostly identified in stage 3 or 4, (advanced stages). This is when the cancer sheds, invades and/or spreads to other organs. The disease shows almost minimal or no symptoms during its early stages, which is why the prognosis of stage 4 ovarian cancer is at diagnosis and the outcome is usually poor.

If the cancer is detected late that is by the fourth stage, then it is treated by surgery and chemotherapy. Surgeries include abdominal hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. Treatment at this stage is usually meant to prolong survival, especially if a woman is above 55.

Ovarian cancer is known to have the highest mortality rate in women as compared to any other cancer of the reproductive system. Survival rate of stage 4 ovarian cancer declines with age in women. A study has also shown that relative survival is lower for African-American women as compared to white women. Five year survival from the time stage 4 ovarian cancer is detected is 18%. Women who survived for a year after diagnosis, the five year survival chances are 23%.

Once the cancer cells enter the abdominal cavity, they spread by growing on the peritoneal lining of the abdomen and other organs. Symptoms of stage 4 ovarian cancer are

  • Abdominal swelling and pain
  • Pelvic pain
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Shortness of breath
  • Frequent urination
  • Vaginal bleeding after menopause or unusually heavy periods
  • Abnormal menstrual cycles

All symptoms may not be the cause of cancer but its best to consult a doctor to be sure.

References

  • http://seer.cancer.gov/publications/survival/surv_ovary.pdf
  • http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/ovary/page8
  • http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/ovarianepithelial/HealthProfessional/page5
  • http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000889.htm
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