Stage 4 ovarian cancer is the most advanced stage. The prognosis of those with stage 4 ovarian cancer is poor. Doctors recommend either aggressive treatment or palliative care depending on the size and locations of the tumours.
Doctors diagnose stage 4 ovarian cancer when tumours are found in the organs outside of the abdomen. Tumours in the lymph nodes away from the abdomen result in a stage 4 diagnosis as well.
Tumours in the ovaries metastasise to adjacent organs or tissue. Cancer cells also metastasise by flowing through the bloodstream or via lymph channels.
The treatment for advanced stage ovarian cancer depends on whether or not most of the tumours can be removed surgically and whether the remaining tumours are small enough to be shrunk with chemotherapy.
If fighting the cancer lowers quality of life with low probability of success, doctors usually suggest palliative care as another option. With palliative care, tumours are treated with chemotherapy and radiation treatment to manage symptoms and increase quality of life.
According to the American Cancer Society, only 18 per cent of patients with stage 4 ovarian cancer survive after five years.