Statistics and outlook for ovarian cancer
This page is about the outlook for women with ovarian cancer. You can find the following information
Statistics and outlook for ovarian cancer
Outlook means your chances of getting better. Your doctor may call this your prognosis. The outcome of treatment for cancer of the ovary depends on a number of different factors.
Below, we present further information about the likely outcome of ovarian cancer. There are no national statistics available for different stages of cancer or treatments that people may have received. The statistics we present here are pulled together from a variety of different sources, including the opinions and experience of the experts that check our information. For the more complete picture in your case, you’d have to speak to your own specialist.
How reliable are cancer statistics?
No statistics can tell you what will happen to you. The statistics cannot tell you about the different treatments people may have had, or how that treatment may have affected their prognosis. There are many individual factors that will affect your treatment and your outlook.
You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the treating ovarian cancer section.
On this page there is quite detailed information about the survival rates of different stages of ovarian cancer. We have included it because people ask us for this. But not everyone who is diagnosed with a cancer wants to read this type of information. If you are not sure whether you want to know at the moment, you might like to skip this page for now. You can always come back to it.
The statistics on this page are relative survival figures. This means that they don't include people with ovarian cancer who have died from other causes. Cancer statistics are often worked out this way because it gives a more accurate picture of the survival rate of the cancer. Many people with cancer are older and may not die from their cancer but from other illnesses, such as heart disease.
Please note - No UK statistics are available for different stages of cancer or treatments that people may have had. The statistics we present here are pulled together from a variety of different sources, including the opinions and experience of the experts who check our information. We give statistics because people ask us for them. But they are only intended as a general guide and can't tell you what will happen in your individual case.
Unless you are very familiar with medical statistics, you may find it helpful to go to our section about different types of cancer statistics before you read the information below.
Remember - statistics are averages based on large numbers of patients. They cannot predict exactly what will happen to you. No two patients are exactly alike and how well treatment works also varies from one person to another. You should feel free to ask your doctor about your prognosis, but not even your doctor can tell you for sure what will happen.
You may hear doctors use the term 5 year survival. This does not mean you will only live 5 years. It relates to the number of people who are alive 5 years after diagnosis. Doctors follow what happens to people for at least 5 years after treatment in any research study. This is because there is only a small chance of the cancer coming back more than 5 years after treatment. Doctors do not like to say these people are cured because there is that small chance. So they use the term 5 year survival instead.
Of all those with ovarian cancer, 72 out of every 100 women (72%) will live for at least 1 year after they are diagnosed. About 46 out of every 100 women (46%) will live for at least 5 years. And about 35 out of every 100 women (35%) will live for at least 10 years.
As with many other types of cancer, the outcome depends on the stage of your cancer when it is diagnosed, in other words, whether it is early or advanced.
The stage of the cancer when it is diagnosed is the most important factor in predicting survival. This means how far it has grown and whether it has spread. Cancers are usually grouped into stages numbered 1 to 4. 1 is the earliest stage cancer and 4 the most advanced. There is more information about the stages of ovarian cancer in this section of the website.
There are no national figures available so the figures we quote below are from the cancer registry covering the Anglia region. The figures are unlikely to vary very much between areas, so can be taken as a guide for the UK as a whole. These figures were collected for women diagnosed between 2004 and 2008.
Up to 3 out of 10 women (30%) are diagnosed with the earliest stage of ovarian cancer, stage 1. Of all these women, about 9 out of 10 (90%) will live for at least 5 years after they are diagnosed. But 5 year survival will vary between individual women, depending on their general health and particular type of ovarian tumour.
Fewer women are diagnosed with stage 2 ovarian cancer - about 4 out of every 100 diagnosed (4%). Out of these women, about 5 out of 10 (50%) will live for at least 5 years after being diagnosed.
More than 4 out of every 10 women diagnosed (40%) have stage 3 ovarian cancer. For this stage, around 2 out of every 10 women diagnosed (20%) will live for at least 5 years.
If the cancer has spread to distant parts of the body (metastatic cancer), it is called stage 4. About 15 out of every 100 women (15%) are diagnosed with ovarian cancer that has already spread. Around 6 out of every 100 women diagnosed with stage 4 cancer (6%) will live for at least 5 years.
Do remember that these are very general figures. The outlook will depend on other factors such as the type of ovarian cancer, which part of the body it has spread to and how fast it is growing. It is best to discuss this with your own specialist, who has all your notes and test results. Of course no one can say exactly what will happen in the future, but your own specialist will be best placed to give you information about your particular case.
There are other factors that can affect your outlook, apart from the stage of your cancer. These include
- The type of ovarian cancer
- The grade of the cancer - how abnormal the cancer cells look
- Whether all the tumour can be removed during initial surgery
- Your overall health
Doctors have a way of grading how well you are. They call this your performance status. You may see this written as PS. A score of 0 means you are completely able to look after yourself. A score of 1 means you can do most things for yourself, but need some help. The scores continue to go up to 4, depending on how much help you need. This affects the outcome of cancer because overall, the fitter people are, the better able they are to cope with their cancer and treatment.
No statistics can tell you what will happen to you. Your cancer is unique. For example, the same type of cancer can grow at different rates in different people. The statistics are not detailed enough to tell you about the different treatments people may have had. And how that treatment may have affected their outlook. Many individual factors will affect your treatment and prognosis.
Taking part in clinical trials can help to improve the outlook for people in the future. If you are interested in taking part in a clinical trial, talk to your cancer specialist. We have information about clinical trials in the trials and research section. And you can search for UK trials on our trials database. Choose 'ovarian cancer' from the dropdown list of cancer types.
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