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Stage Information for Ovarian Epithelial Cancer

    In the absence of extra-abdominal metastatic disease, definitive staging of ovarian cancer requires surgery. The role of surgery in patients with stage IV disease and extra-abdominal disease is yet to be established. If disease appears to be limited to the ovaries or pelvis, it is essential at laparotomy to examine and biopsy or to obtain cytologic brushings of the diaphragm, both paracolic gutters, the pelvic peritoneum, para-aortic and pelvic nodes, and infracolic omentum, and to obtain peritoneal washings.[1]

    The serum CA 125 level is valuable in the follow-up and restaging of patients who have elevated CA 125 levels at the time of diagnosis.[2,3,4] While an elevated CA 125 level indicates a high probability of epithelial ovarian cancer, a negative CA 125 level cannot be used to exclude the presence of residual disease.[5] CA 125 levels can also be elevated in other malignancies and benign gynecologic problems such as endometriosis, and CA 125 levels should be used with a histologic diagnosis of epithelial ovarian cancer.[6,7]

    Definitions: FIGO

    The Féderation Internationale de Gynécologie et d'Obstétrique (FIGO) and the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) have designated staging to define ovarian epithelial cancer; the FIGO system is most commonly used.[8,9]

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