Women whose medical plan mean delayed treatment for suspected stage 1 ovarian cancer fear that it’ll grow to stage 4 by the time surgery is performed.

Ovarian cancer is uncommonly discovered at stage 1. But there are cases when incidentally a concerning mass is detected when the patient is being imaged for an unrelated reason.

There is the case of a woman whose doctor suspected she might have an early ovarian cancer.

However, due to the patient’s slow-moving medical plan, the steps leading up to surgery—if further investigation pointed towards a malignancy—would take several months.

She was terrified that during all that time the confined tumor—if that’s indeed what she had—would spread to her organs.

How Long to Go from Stage 1 Ovarian Cancer to Stage 4?

“Ovarian cancer grows or spreads very quickly,” says Julian Schink, MD, Chief of Gynecologic Oncology, Cancer Treatment Centers of America; Medical Director of Gynecologic and Medical Oncology, Midwestern Regional Medical Center.

“In many cases it grows bigger and faster in the omentum [fatty layer that supports intestines and organs] than it does in the ovary or fallopian tube,” continues Dr. Schink.

“In my opinion some cases are stage 3 from the beginning because we sometimes see the pre-invasive (STIC) serous cells in a fallopian tube and a huge serous cancer in the omentum.”

There is no precise timeline identified for how long it takes stage 1 ovarian cancer to develop into stage 4.

If a woman’s initial diagnosis is stage 4, then nobody knows how far back she would have been diagnosed as stage 1.

If her initial diagnosis is stage 1…then the ovarian cancer is going to be treated, and hence, there’s no way to determine how long it would have taken to grow to a stage 4.

For more information on this disease or other gynecological malignancies, contact Cancer Treatment Centers of America at (844) 632-7188.

dr. schink
With 25+ years of experience, and board certified in gynecologic oncology and OB/GYN, Dr. Schink is dedicated to caring for patients and advancing treatments for gynecologic malignancies. His surgery and chemotherapy treatments include those for ovarian, cervical and uterine cancer. 
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  


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