Ovarian Cancer Remains Deadly, Rates Declining Slowly

Web Exclusives - Ovarian Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), the number of new cases of ovarian cancer in the United States is expected to exceed 20,000 in 2020, with nearly 14,000 women dying from the disease. “In 2020, an estimated 21,750 new cases of ovarian cancer will be diagnosed in the US and 13,940 women will die from the disease,” the ACS cited in its Cancer Facts & Figures 2020 report. “Most (90%) cases are epithelial ovarian cancer, the majority of which are high-grade serous tumors, which have the fewest established risk factors and worst prognosis.”

In a separate report, the National Cancer Institute, using data from its Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program, indicated that the estimated number of new cases of ovarian cancer in 2020 will represent 1.2% of all new cancer cases and 2.3% of all cancer deaths.

On average, age-adjusted rates for new ovarian cancer cases have been declining 2.5% each year over the past 10 years, and age-adjusted death rates have been declining 2.2% each year from 2008 to 2017. The age-adjusted rate of new cases of ovarian cancer was 11.2 per 100,000 women per year, and the age-adjusted death rate was 6.9 per 100,000 women per year, based on cases and deaths from 2013 to 2017 in the SEER database.

Based on data from 2015 to 2017, approximately 1.2% of women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer at some point during their lifetime. In 2017, an estimated 233,364 women in the United States were living with the disease.

The median age of diagnosis for women with ovarian cancer is 63 years. Approximately one-fourth (24.7%) of new cases are diagnosed in women aged 55 to 64 years, slightly ahead of the 23.1% of new cases diagnosed in women aged 65 to 74 years.

SEER data show a 5-year relative survival rate of 48.6% for women diagnosed with ovarian cancer between 2010 and 2016. However, survival rates vary significantly by disease stage. The 5-year relative survival is 92.6% for women with localized ovarian cancer (16% of all ovarian cancer cases), but declines to 74.8% for those diagnosed with regional disease (21% of all cases), and to 30.2% for those with distant ovarian cancer at diagnosis (58% of all cases). In 5% of ovarian cancer cases, the stage at diagnosis is unknown; for this group, the 5-year relative survival is 25.5%.

The median age of death from ovarian cancer is 70 years. Most deaths occur in women aged 65 to 74 years (28.0% of ovarian cancer deaths), those aged 75 to 84 years (24.4% of ovarian cancer deaths), and those aged 55 to 64 years (21.2% of ovarian cancer deaths). The mortality rate per 100,000 persons is highest among whites (7.1) and non-Hispanics (7.0), and lowest among Asian/Pacific Islanders (4.4) and Hispanics (5.2).

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Last modified: June 8, 2020