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About advanced cancer

Find out about advanced ovarian cancer and how it might affect you.

What advanced ovarian cancer is

Advanced ovarian cancer means that the cancer has spread from the ovary to another part of the body. Doctors class stage 2 to 4 ovarian cancers as advanced.

Advanced cancer can also mean a cancer that has come back after treatment (recurrence).

Ovarian cancer can often be quite advanced when it is first diagnosed. Women may not have any symptoms when the cancer is in its early stages. Or any symptoms may have been vague and difficult to spot or explain.

Ovarian cancer that is advanced when it is first diagnosed can sometimes be cured with surgery and chemotherapy. Though this will partly depend on what the exact stage is.

Unfortunately ovarian cancer that comes back after treatment can't usually be cured. But treatment may control it for many months or sometimes years.

Cancers that have spread to another part of the body, such as the lungs, are called:

  • secondary cancer
  • metastases
  • metastatic cancer

Where ovarian cancer spreads

If ovarian cancer spreads, it can spread to the:

  • lining of the abdomen (the peritoneum)
  • lining of the bowel or bladder
  • liver
  • lungs

How you might feel

Finding out that you have an advanced cancer can be a shock. It’s common to feel uncertain and anxious and it’s normal to not be able to think about anything else.

Lots of information and support is available to you and your family and friends. It can help to find out more about your cancer and the treatments you might have. Many people find that knowing more about their situation can make it easier to cope.

    Talk to your specialist to understand:

    • what your diagnosis means
    • what is likely to happen
    • what treatment is available
    • how treatment can help you


    Many people want to know what the outlook is and how their cancer will develop. This is different for each person. Your cancer specialist has all the information about you and your cancer. They're the best person to discuss this with.

    You can also talk to your specialist nurse.

    For information and support, you can phone the Cancer Research UK nurses on 0808 800 4040, from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

    Information and help

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    About Cancer generously supported by Dangoor Education since 2010.