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Ovarian cancer incidence statistics

Ovarian cancer incidence statistics are presented here by country in the UK, age and trends over time. There are also data on geography, socio-economic variation, morphology, ethnicity and prevalence. 

Find out more about the coding and counting of this data

By country in the UK

Ovarian cancer is the 5th most common cancer among women in the UK (2011), accounting for 4% of all new cases of cancer in females.1-4

In 2011, there were 7,116 new cases of ovarian cancer in the UK (Table 1.1).1-4 The crude incidence rate shows that there are 22 new ovarian cancer cases for every 100,000 females in the UK.

The European age-standardised incidence rate (AS rate) is significantly higher in Wales compared with the other constituent countries of the UK, and significantly lower in Northern Ireland compared with England (Table 1.1).1-4

Table 1.1: Ovarian Cancer (C56-C57), Number of New Cases, Crude and European Age-Standardised (AS) Incidence Rates per 100,000 Population, UK, 2011

England Wales Scotland Northern Ireland UK
Cases 5,917 439 602 158 7,116
Crude Rate 21.9 28.2 22.2 17.1 22.1
AS Rate 17.1 20.2 16.1 14.2 17.1
AS Rate - 95% LCL 16.7 18.3 14.8 12.0 16.7
AS Rate - 95% UCL 17.5 22.1 17.4 16.4 17.5

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95% LCL and 95% UCL are the 95% lower and upper confidence limits around the AS rate

In the 1990s, there was little geographical variation in incidence of ovarian cancer in the UK and Ireland.5 The latest analysis of ovarian cancer incidence rates throughout the UK reports only modest variation between cancer networks, with the highest rates being in areas of the Midlands and the South West, and the lowest rates being in areas of Yorkshire and the South East.6,7

section reviewed 23/04/14
section updated 23/04/14

 

By age

Ovarian cancer incidence is strongly related to age, with the highest incidence rates being in older women. In the UK between 2009 and 2011, an average of 29% of cases were diagnosed in women aged 75 years and over, and three-quarters (75%) were diagnosed in those aged 55 and over (Figure 1.1).1-4

Age-specific incidence rates rise sharply from around age 35-39, peak in those aged 80-84, and subsequently plateau (Figure 1.1).1-4

Figure 1.1: Ovarian Cancer (C56-C57), Average Number of New Cases per Year and Age-Specific Incidence Rates per 100,000 Population, Females, UK, 2009-2011

cases_crude_ovary.swf

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section reviewed 23/04/14
section updated 23/04/14

 

Trends over time

Changes to the classification of boderline malignant ovarian tumours may affect comparisons over time. Before 2000, borderline malignant ovarian tumours were sometimes classified as malignant (and so were included in the statistics reported on this page), but since 2000, borderline malignant ovarian tumours are classified as uncertain behaviour (and so are not included in the statistics reported on this page).8

Ovarian cancer incidence rates have increased overall in Great Britain since the mid-1970s (Figure 1.2), however this includes an increase followed by a decrease.1-3 European AS incidence rates increased by 32% between 1975-1977 and 1997-1999, and have since fallen by 11% between 1997-1999 and 2009-2011. The recent decrease probably reflects both the classification change, and increased use of the contraceptive pill which reduces ovarian cancer risk.8,9

Figure 1.2: Ovarian Cancer (C56-C57), European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates per 100,000 Population, Females, Great Britain, 1975-2011

inc_asr_gb_ovary.swf

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Ovarian cancer incidence trends for the UK are shown in Figure 1.3.1-4 Over the last decade (between 2000-2002 and 2009-2011), the European AS incidence rates have decreased by 10%.

Figure 1.3: Ovarian Cancer (C56-C57), European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates per 100,000 Population, Females, UK, 1993-2011

inc_asr_uk_ovary.swf

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Ovarian cancer incidence rates have increased overall for females aged 15-39 and 65+, and decreased for those aged 40-49 in Great Britain since the mid-1970s. The latest rates for 50-64 year olds are similar now to those of the mid-1970s, although there has been both an increase and decrease during this time (Figure 1.4).1-3 The largest increases have been in females aged 15-39, with European AS incidence rates increasing by 56% between 1975-1977 and 2009-2011. In those aged 65+, rates increased by 62% between 1975-1977 and 2001-2003, but have subsequently fallen by 6%. For women aged 40-49, incidence rates remained fairly stable from the mid-1970s to the late 1990s, and have since fallen slightly. Rates in women aged 50-64 increased by 27% between 1975-1977 and 1996-1998, and then decreased by 22% between 1996-1998 and 2009-2011.

Figure 1.4: Ovarian Cancer (C56-C57), European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates per 100,000 Population, by Age, Females, Great Britain, 1975-2011

inc_asr_age_ovary.swf

Download this chart XLS (55KB) PPT (133KB) PDF (52KB)

The decreasing trends among older age groups in recent years suggest a birth cohort effect, probably relating to contraceptive pill use, which became widespread in the 1960s and has reduced ovarian cancer risk in women who were of reproductive age at that time.9,21,22 The increase among younger women may at least partly be driven by a rise in rates of germ cell tumours.23

section reviewed 23/04/14
section updated 23/04/14

 

In Europe and worldwide

Ovarian cancer (C56 only) is the fifth most common cancer in Europe for females, and the 13th most common cancer overall, with around 65,600 new cases diagnosed in 2012 (4% of female cases and 2% of the total). In Europe (2012), the highest World age-standardised incidence rate for ovarian cancer are in Latvia; the lowest are in Albania. UK ovarian cancer incidence rates are estimated to be the ninth highest in Europe.10 These data are broadly in line with Europe-specific data available elsewhere.11

Ovarian cancer (C56 only) is the seventh most common cancer worldwide for females, and the 18th most common cancer overall, with nearly 239,000 new cases diagnosed in 2012 (4% of female cases and 2% of the total). Ovarian cancer incidence rates are highest in Central and Eastern Europe and lowest in Western Africa, but this partly reflects varying data quality worldwide.10

Use our interactive map to explore the data for ovarian cancer.

Variation between countries may reflect different prevalence of risk factors, use of screening, and diagnostic methods.

section reviewed 11/06/14
section updated 11/06/14

By socio-economic variation

In a comprehensive study of incidence and mortality variation within the UK and Ireland, little geographical variation was reported for ovarian cancer.5 Incidence tends to be slightly higher among women in more affluent groups than in the most deprived groups, which is not unexpected as risk factors such as low parity are more common in more affluent women.13,14

section reviewed 08/03/11
section updated 08/03/11

Morphology

80-90% of ovarian malignancies are epithelial in origin, with the most common type in the UK being serous carcinomas.15-17 Other rarer subtypes include germ cell tumours, which tend to occur in pre-menopausal women and are very chemo-sensitive (and hence treatable). It is thought that most histologies share common risk factors, with the probable exception of mucinous carcinomas.15,18

The most striking international difference occurs in Japan, which has lower rates of ovarian cancer than in Europe.12 Some of this variation may be explained by geographical differences in histologies, since Japan has a higher percentage of clear cell adenocarcinomas (20-25%) compared with other Asian or Western countries (5-10%).19

section reviewed 04/11/11
section updated 04/11/11

By ethnicity

Age-standardised rates for White females with ovarian cancer (ICD-10 C56 only) range from 17.4 to 18.1 per 100,000. Rates for Asian females are significantly lower, ranging from 9.2 to 15.5 per 100,000 and the rates for Black females are also significantly lower, ranging from 6.6 to 12.1 per 100,000.24

Ranges are given because of the analysis methodology used to account for missing and unknown data. For ovarian cancer, 28,023 cases were identified; 22% had no known ethnicity.

section reviewed 23/04/14
section updated 23/04/14

Prevalence

Prevalence refers to the number of people who have previously received a diagnosis of cancer and who are still alive at a given time point. Some patients will have been cured of their disease and others will not.

In the UK around 25,100 women were still alive at the end of 2006, up to ten years after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer (Table 1.2).20

Table 1.2: Ovarian Cancer (C56-C57), One, Five and Ten Year Cancer Prevalence, UK, 31st December 2006

1 Year Prevalence 5 Year Prevalence 10 Year Prevalence
Female 4,516 15,794 25,066

Download this table XLS (30KB) PPT (117KB) PDF (15KB)

Worldwide, it is estimated that there were around 550,000 women still alive in 2008, up to five years after their diagnosis.12

section reviewed 17/05/13
section updated 17/05/13

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References for ovarian cancer incidence

  1. Data were provided by the Office for National Statistics on request, July 2013. Similar data can be found here: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/vsob1/cancer-statistics-registrations--england--series-mb1-/index.html.
  2. Data were provided by ISD Scotland on request, May 2013. Similar data can be found here: http://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Cancer/Publications/index.asp.
  3. Data were provided by the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit on request, June 2013. Similar data can be found here: http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sites3/page.cfm?orgid=242&pid=59080.
  4. Data were provided by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry on request, June 2013. Similar data can be found here: http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/nicr/CancerData/OnlineStatistics/.
  5. Quinn M, Wood H, Cooper N, Rowan S, eds. Cancer Atlas of the United Kingdom and Ireland 1991–2000. Studies on Medical and Population Subjects No. 68. London: ONS; 2005.
  6. National Cancer Intelligence Network. Cancer Incidence and Mortality by Cancer Network, UK, 2005. London: NCIN; 2008.
  7. National Cancer Intelligence Network. Cancer e-Atlas. Accessed January 2014.
  8. UK Association of Cancer Registries. Library of recommendations on cancer coding and classification policy and practice. Accessed May 2013.
  9. Collaborative Group on Epidemiological Studies of Ovarian C, Beral V, Doll R, et al.Ovarian cancer and oral contraceptives: collaborative reanalysis of data from 45 epidemiological studies including 23,257 women with ovarian cancer and 87,303 controls. Lancet 2008;371(9609):303-14.
  10. Ferlay J, Soerjomataram I, Ervik M, et al. GLOBOCAN 2012 v1.0, Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide: IARC CancerBase No. 11 [Internet]. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2013. Available from: http://globocan.iarc.fr, accessed December 2013.
  11. Ferlay J, Steliarova-Foucher E, Lortet-Tieulent J, et al.Cancer incidence and mortality patterns in Europe: Estimates for 40 countries in 2012. European Journal of Cancer (2013) 49, 1374-1403.
  12. Ferlay J, Shin HR, Bray F, et al. GLOBOCAN 2008 v1.2, Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide. IARC Cancerbase No,10 [Internet] Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer, 2010. Available from: http://globocan.iarc.fr.
  13. National Cancer Intelligence Network. Cancer incidence by deprivation England 1995-2004. London: NCIN; 2008.
  14. Cooper N, Quinn MJ, Rachet B, et al. Survival from cancer of the ovary in England and Wales up to 2001. Br J Cancer 2008;99 Suppl 1:S70-2
  15. Granstrom C, Sundquist J, Hemminki K. Population attributable fractions for ovarian cancer in Swedish women by morphological type. Br J Cancer 2008;98:199-205.
  16. DeVita VT, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, eds. Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 8th edition. Philadephia, USA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2008.
  17. McCluggage WG. My approach to and thoughts on the typing of ovarian carcinomas. Journal of Clinical Pathology 2008;61:152-63.
  18. Purdie DM, Webb PM, Siskind V, et al. The different etiologies of mucinous and nonmucinous epithelial ovarian cancers. Gynecol Oncol 2003;88:S145-8.
  19. Ushijima K. Current status of gynecologic cancer in Japan. J Gynecol Oncol 2009;20:67-71.
  20. National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN). One, Five and Ten-Year Cancer Prevalence. London: NCIN; 2010.
  21. dos Santos Silva I, Swerdlow AJ. Recent trends in incidence of and mortality from breast, ovarian and endometrial cancers in England and Wales and their relation to changing fertility and oral contraceptive use. Br J Cancer 1995;72(2):485-92.
  22. National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN). Overview of Ovarian Cancer in England: Incidence, Mortality and Survival. London: NCIN; 2012.
  23. Arora RS, Alston RD, Eden TO, et al. Comparative incidence patterns and trends of gonadal and extragonadal germ cell tumors in England, 1979 to 2003. Cancer 2012;118(17):4290-7.
  24. National Cancer Intelligence Network and Cancer Research UK. Cancer Incidence and Survival by Major Ethnic Group, England, 2002-2006. 2009.
Updated: 11 June 2014