Each year, approximately 20,000 American women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and about 15,000 women die of the disease. In 2008, it is estimated that 21,650 women in the United States will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer and 15,520 women will die from the disease.
One in 72 women will develop ovarian cancer (lifetime risk). One in 95 women will die from ovarian cancer. A woman’s lifetime risk of developing ovarian cancer is 1.39 percent. A woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer and dying from it is 1.05 percent.
The overall five-year relative survival rate for all women with ovarian cancer is 46 percent. This means that compared to women in the general population, five years from the time of diagnosis only 46 percent of women with ovarian cancer are still alive. However, the survival rate improves greatly to 93 percent if the cancer is diagnosed at an early stage before it has spread. Only 19 percent of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed at this local stage. Approximately 75 percent of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage after the cancer has spread beyond the ovary. The five-year survival rate for women with ovarian cancer has not significantly increased in the past 30 years—a mere 8 percent. Women diagnosed with ovarian cancer from 1975 to 1979 experienced a five-year survival rate of approximately 38 percent. Today this rate is approximately 46 percent. Ovarian cancer survival rates have not improved as significantly as those of some other cancers that affect primarily women. For example, women diagnosed with breast cancer from 1975 to 1979 experienced a five-year survival rate of 75 percent and today this rate is 89 percent.
Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related death among U.S. women.
Ovarian cancer has remained the fifth leading cause of cancer-related death among U.S. women since 1999. Mortality rates are slightly less for minority women than for Caucasian women.
Over the past decade there has been a slight decrease – less than 1 percent per year – in ovarian cancer incidence rates, however, during the same time, the actual incidence numbers increased by approximately 3,000 women. During most of the past decade (1996 to 2005), the ovarian cancer mortality rate has remained stable. The breast cancer mortality rate has decreased 2.2 percent per year (1990 to 2005) and the cervical cancer mortality rate has decreased 3.4 percent per year in a similar time period (1995 to 2005).
http://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2005/1 Ries LAG, Melbert D, Krapcho M, Stinchcomb DG, Howlader N, Horner MJ, Mariotto A, Miller BA, Feuer EJ, Altekruse SF, Lewis DR, Clegg L, Eisner MP, Reichman M, Edwards BK (eds). SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2005, National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD. Available at: . Based on November 2007 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER web site 2008.
Even in its early stages ovarian cancer has symptoms. Research indicates that 95 percent of women with ovarian cancer had symptoms and 90 percent of women experienced symptoms with early-stage ovarian cancer. Symptoms vary from woman to woman and many times depend on the location of the tumor and its impact on the surrounding organs. Many of the symptoms mimic other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome.
The Gynecologic Cancer Foundation, the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists and the American Cancer Society, with significant support from the Alliance formed a consensus statement on ovarian cancer. The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance has endorsed the consensus statement, which was announced in June 2007. The statement follows.
Historically ovarian cancer was called the “silent killer” because symptoms were not thought to develop until the chance of cure was poor. However, recent studies have shown this term is untrue and that the following symptoms are much more likely to occur in women with ovarian cancer than women in the general population.
These symptoms include:
Bloating, Pelvic or abdominal pain,Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency).
Women with ovarian cancer report that symptoms are persistent and represent a change from normal for their bodies.
The frequency and/or number of such symptoms are key factors in the diagnosis of ovarian cancer. Several studies show that even early stage ovarian cancer can produce these symptoms.
Women who have these symptoms almost daily for more than a few weeks should see their doctor, preferably a gynecologist. Prompt medical evaluation may lead to detection at the earliest possible stage of the disease. Early stage diagnosis is associated with an improved prognosis.
Several other symptoms have been commonly reported by women with ovarian cancer. These symptoms include fatigue, indigestion, back pain, pain with intercourse, constipation and menstrual irregularities. However, these other symptoms are not as useful in identifying ovarian cancer because they are also found in equal frequency in women in the general population who do not have ovarian cancer.