Staging ovarian cancer: role of imaging

Radiol Clin North Am. 2002 May;40(3):609-36. doi: 10.1016/s0033-8389(01)00012-4.


Ovarian cancer is relatively common, and often presents at an advanced stage with widespread intraperitoneal metastases. The constellation of complex pelvic masses, ascites, omental cake, and other peritoneal implants is virtually diagnostic. All patients are potential surgical candidates, since suspected early stage disease is treated by a comprehensive staging laparotomy including total abdominal hysterectomy, bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, and omentectomy. Operable advanced disease is treated by surgical debulking and adjuvant combination chemotherapy. The role of imaging is to detect and characterize adnexal masses as likely malignant, recognize unusual findings that may suggest atypical pathology, demonstrate metastases in order to prevent under-staging, and detect specific sites of disease that may be unresectable. These aims are directly related to clinical management; characterization of an adnexal mass as malignant guides appropriate surgical referral, recognition of atypical pathology such as malignant granulosa cell tumor in a young woman may be an indication for fertility-preserving surgery. Demonstration of metastatic site-assists surgical planning, and detection of unresectable disease may be an indication for neoadjuvant (ie, preoperative) chemotherapy with interval debulking rather than primary debulking with adjuvan (postoperative) chemotherapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Contrast Media
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Neoplasm Staging / methods*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*


  • Contrast Media