Ovarian Cancer (Cancer of the Ovaries)

  • Medical Author: Andrew Green, MD
  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

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Quick GuideOvarian Cancer Symptoms, Signs, Stages

Ovarian Cancer Symptoms, Signs, Stages

What are ovarian cancer statistics?

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), in 2015 there were an estimated 21,290 new cases of ovarian cancer and 14,180 deaths from the disease. The vast majority of the cases are EOC and are found at stage 3 or later, meaning the cancer has spread beyond the pelvis or to the lymph nodes. This is mostly due to the lack of definite symptoms at the early stages of cancer growth. Around 1.3% of women will be diagnosed with cancer of the ovary at some point in life, thus it is relatively rare. The median age of diagnosis is 63. However, approximately 25% of cases are diagnosed between ages 35 and 54. Caucasian women have the highest rate of diagnosis.

Like many other cancers, when ovarian cancer is found at an early stage (for example, localized to the ovary or fallopian tube) the survival at 5 years is very good (about 92%); most women at stage 1 will still be alive at 5 years. However, the 5-year survival for all women diagnosed with ovarian cancer is only 45%. This is because it is often found at an advanced stage in which the disease has already spread within the abdomen.

Survival is also dependent on the type of care the patient receives. Women suspected of having ovarian cancer should be referred to a gynecologic oncologist. These are physicians with special training in gynecologic (ovarian, uterine, cervical, vulvar, and vaginal) cancers. If a woman does not involve a doctor with this specialized training in her care, then studies show that her survival is significantly worse, often by many years. For this reason, every woman with this disease ideally will obtain a referral to a gynecologic oncologist before she starts any treatment or has any surgery.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/28/2016

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