Ovarian, Fallopian & Primary Peritoneal Cancer


Ovarian cancer is the second most common gynecologic malignancy and the most common cause of gynecologic cancer death in the United States. There are approximately 22,000 new cases and 14,000 cancer-related deaths expected from ovarian cancer each year.

Signs and Symptoms

Although ovarian cancer is often very difficult to detect, some subtle symptoms that are occasionally present include:

  • Bloating
  • Urinary urgency or frequency
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain

These symptoms can be caused by conditions that are not cancer. But if you have these symptoms, tell your doctor or nurse.


Cancer staging is a way in which doctors find out how far the cancer has spread.

The right treatment for you will depend a lot on the stage of your cancer and how fast it is growing. Your treatment will also depend on your age and other medical problems.

Based upon the findings during exploratory surgery, the tumor is formally "staged" according to the size, extent, and location of the cancer. Accurate staging during surgery is very important in determining a woman's long-term outcome (prognosis) and choosing the appropriate treatment regimen after surgery.

The stage of an ovarian cancer is defined by a Roman numeral designation between I and IV, and subdivided by the letters A, B, and C. In general, the stages I, II, III, and IV refer to the location of tumor involvement, while the subdivisions A, B, and C define the extent of tumor involvement. A higher stage of disease indicates more extensive tumor involvement.

Early stage cancer

    • Stage I and II disease are considered early stage ovarian cancer:
    • In stage IA and IB disease, the cancer is limited to one or both or ovaries, and the capsule or membrane covering the ovaries has not been broken by the cancer's growth.
    • In stage IC disease, the capsule of either ovary may have ruptured or there may be signs suggesting that cancer cells have begun to spread within the pelvis (ie, there are cancerous cells in the fluid taken from the peritoneal cavity during surgery).
    • In stage II disease, other pelvic organs, such as the uterus or fallopian tubes, are involved with the tumor, and there may be early signs that the cancer has spread beyond the pelvis.

Advanced stage disease

    • In stage III disease, the cancer is confined to the abdomen and the abdominal lymph nodes. This is the most common stage at the time of diagnosis.
    • In stage IV disease, the cancer has spread to distant sites such as the liver or lungs.

Treatments for Ovarian Fallopian and Primary Peritoneal Cancers

Most women with ovarian cancer have surgery. Recommendations for treatment after surgery depend upon the disease stage. Some women will not need further treatment after surgery but the majority of women with ovarian cancer need chemotherapy.

  • Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy is medication used to treat and prevent recurrence of cancer by killing cancer cells.

Source: The information on this page comes directly from articles on UpToDate medical database.