Surgical staging of cancers is performed in order to fully assess the extent of disease. This allows for decisions to be made regarding additional therapy, which is usually in the form of chemotherapy. Surgical staging generally involves removal of all visible disease, as well as removal of the ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus. It can also include removal of the omentum, lymph nodes and other organs depending on the surgical findings. It is imperative that this surgery be performed by a gynecologic oncologist. These specialist are most familiar with the treatment of this cancer, thus offering patients the best chance of survival. There is no formal agreed-upon staging system for primary peritoneal cancer.
Because it is so similar to ovarian cancer with respect to treatment, it is staged in a similar fashion. Tumor state is typically assigned using guidelines established for ovarian cancer. Stages I through IV describe how far the tumor has spread. Nearly all patients diagnosed will have Stage III or higher because warning signs are typically few until the cancer is widespread.
Patients with PPC or FTC may have fluid around the lungs, known as a pleural effusion. If an effusion is present, some fluid may be removed in order to look for tumor cells. If tumor cells are found in this fluid, the patient has Stage IV disease.