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Ovarian cancer survival statistics

One-, five- and ten-year survival statistics for ovarian cancer by age and trends over time are presented here. There are also data by geography and by stage at diagnosis. The ICD codes for ovarian cancer are ICD-10 C56, C57.0-C57.7.

The statistics on these pages give an overall picture of survival. Unless otherwise stated, the statistics include all female adults diagnosed with ovarian cancer, at all ages, stages and co-morbidities. The survival time experienced by an individual patient may be much higher or lower, depending on specific patient and tumour characteristics. If you are a patient, you will probably find our CancerHelp pages more relevant and useful.

The latest survival statistics available for ovarian cancer in England are 2005-2009 (followed up to 2010). Find out why these are the latest statistics available.

One, five and ten year survival rates

The latest age-standardised relative survival rates for ovarian cancer in England during 2005-2009 show that 72.3% of women are expected to survive their disease for at least one year, falling to 42.9% surviving five years or more (Table 3.1).1,2 Broadly similar rates have been reported for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.3-5

Table 3.1: Ovarian Cancer (C56, C57.0-C57.7), Age-Standardised One-, Five- and Ten-Year Relative Survival Rates, Women (Aged 15-99), England 2005-2009 and England and Wales 2007

Relative Survival (%)
1 Year 5 Year 10 Year
Sex 2005-2009 2005-2009 2007*
Female 72.3 42.9 35.4

Download this table XLS (38KB)


 

**Ten-year survival rates have been predicted for patients diagnosed in 2007 (using the hybrid approach)

The five-year relative survival rates for ovarian cancer are among the lowest of the 21 most common cancers in England.1 These relatively low survival rates can be attributed in part to the fact that 29% of cases of ovarian cancer are emergency presentations.6

section reviewed 20/06/12
section updated 20/06/12

By age

As with nearly all cancers, relative survival for ovarian cancer is higher in younger women, even after taking account of the higher background mortality in older people. The reasons for this are likely to include a combination of better general health, more effective response to treatment and earlier diagnosis in younger people overall. Differences in underlying tumour biology may also play a part for some cancer sites.

The five-year relative survival rates for ovarian cancer in England during 2005-2009 ranged from 87% in 15-39 year olds to 16% in 80-99 year olds (Figure 3.1).1

Figure 3.1: Ovarian Cancer (C56, C57.0-C57.7), Five-Year Relative Survival Rates by Age, England 2005-2009

surv_5yr_age_ovary.swf

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section reviewed 20/06/12
section updated 20/06/12

Trends over time

As with the majority of cancers, relative survival for ovarian cancer is improving. Much of the increase occurred during the 1980s and 1990s, and appears to be leveling off in the 2000s. The significant increase in one-year survival is likely to be the result of greater use of platinum-based chemotherapy.7 One-year relative survival rates for ovarian cancer increased from 42% in England and Wales during 1971-1975 to 72.3% in England during 2005-2009 (Figure 3.2).1,8-10

Figure 3.2: Ovarian Cancer (C56, C57.0-C57.7), Age-Standardised One-Year Relative Survival Rates, England and Wales 1971-1995, England 1996-2009

surv_1yr_ovary.swf

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*Survival rates are for England only from 1996 onwards

The increase in five-year survival may be due to both wider access to optimal primary treatment and greater determination to treat recurrent disease.7 Five-year relative survival rates for ovarian cancer increased from 21% in England and Wales during 1971-1975 to 42.9% in England during 2005-2009 (Figure 3.3).1,8-10

Figure 3.3: Ovarian Cancer (C56, C57.0-C57.7), Age-Standardised Five-Year Relative Survival Rates, England and Wales 1971-1995, England 1996-2009

surv_5yr_ovary.swf

Download this chart XLS (55KB)

*Survival rates are for England only from 1996 onwards

The difference between five- and ten-year survival rates is relatively small (38% vs 35% in 2001-03 the latest year we have comparable figures) indicating that women who survive for five years after diagnosis have a good chance of being cured. Comparative studies of ovarian cancer mortality in Scotland also indicate this.11 Ten-year relative survival rates for women diagnosed with ovarian cancer increased from 20% in England and Wales during 1971-1975 to a predicted 35.4% in England in 2007 (Figure 3.4).2

Figure 3.4: Ovarian Cancer (C56,C57.0-C57.7), Age-Standardised Ten-Year Relative Survival Rates, England and Wales 1971-1995 and Predicted 2007, England 1996-2003

surv_10yr_ovary.swf

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*Survival rates are not age-standardised from 1971-1985
**Ten-year survival rates have been predicted for patients diagnosed in 2007 (using the hybrid approach).

section reviewed 20/06/12
section updated 20/06/12

By stage

An important determinant of ovarian cancer survival is the stage of the disease at diagnosis. Data from the Anglia Cancer Network area for women diagnosed during 2004-08 has shown that five-year relative survival rates are more than 90% for early stage disease, but fall very sharply to less than 10% for late stage cases (Table 3.2).12 The majority (60%) of women are diagnosed with stage III or IV disease, and only around 30% of women are diagnosed at the earliest stage.12
 

Table 3.2: Ovarian Cancer, Five-Year Stage-Specific Relative Survival Rates, Adults (Ages 15-99), Anglia Cancer Network, 2004-2008

Stage at diagnosis Number of cases % of all cases 5-year relative survival (%) Confidence Interval (95%)
Stage I 424 29 92.0 86.5-97.6
Stage II 62 4 55.1 36.8-73.5
Stage III 652 45 21.9 17.3-26.4
Stage IV 216 15 5.6 1.9-9.4
Unstaged 89 6 27.6 16.0-39.3
All stages 1,443 100* 43.5 39.9-47.0

*Percentages may not add due to rounding


There has been a clear improvement in five-year survival for stage I patients since the late 1980s, with rates increasing from around 80% in 1987-91 to 92% in 2004-085 (Figure 3.5). Less than 5% of patients are diagnosed with stage II disease, and although five-year survival rates have increased since the late 1980s, the confidence intervals are wide (Table 3.2) making it difficult to draw firm conclusions about any improvement. Five-year survival for women with stage III disease has shown a small but consistent improvement since the early 1980s, and there has been very little change in prognosis for stage IV patients.12 A study from the Munich area in Germany has also indicated that most of the long-term improvement in ovarian cancer survival has occurred among women presenting with stage I or II disease.13
 

Figure 3.5: Ovarian cancer, Five-Year Stage-Specific Relative Survival Rates, Adults (Ages 15-99), Anglia Cancer Network, 1987-2008

SURV_BYSTAGE_OVARY_SWF

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section reviewed 20/06/12
section updated 20/06/12

In Europe and worldwide

When UK survival rates for ovarian cancer are compared with those of other countries, including Australia, Canada, Norway, and Sweden, they are significantly worse. Differences in data quality and coding practices across Europe may contribute to some of the variation, but the consistently lower levels for UK countries suggest real differences in survival. More detailed studies to investigate the factors underlying these differences within Europe are being undertaken.14-17 It has been estimated that if survival from ovarian cancer in Britain equalled the best in Europe, then almost 2,400 deaths could be avoided within five years of diagnosis.18

section reviewed 20/06/12
section updated 20/06/12

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References for ovarian cancer survival

  1. For data for 2005-2009: Office for National Statistics (ONS). Cancer survival in England: Patients diagnosed 2005-2009 and followed up to 2010. London: ONS; 2011.
  2. For data for 2007: Coleman MP, et al. Research commissioned by Cancer Research UK, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. 2010.
  3. Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit (WCISU). Cancer Survival Trends in Wales 1985-2004. Cardiff: WCISU; 2010.
  4. Information Services Division Scotland (ISD Scotland). Cancer Statistics. Cancer of the ovary. Accessed September 2011.
  5. Northern Ireland Cancer Registry (NICR). Cancer Survival Online Statistics. Ovary. Accessed September 2011.
  6. National Cancer Intelligence Unit (NCIN). Routes to Diagnosis. London: NCIN; 2010.
  7. Kitchener HC. Survival from cancer of the ovary in England and Wales up to 2001. Br J Cancer 2008;99 Suppl 1:S73-4.
  8. For data for 1996-2003: Rachet B, Maringe C, Nur U, et al. Population-based cancer survival trends in England and Wales up to 2007. Lancet Oncol 2009;10:351-369. Age-standardised figures were provided by the author on request.
  9. For data for 1971-1990: Coleman MP, Babb P, Damiecki P, et al. Cancer Survival Trends in England and Wales, 1971-1995: Deprivation and NHS Region. Series SMPS No 61. London: ONS; 1999.
  10. For data for 1991-1995: Office for National Statistics (ONS). Cancer Survival: England and Wales, 1991-2001, twenty major cancers by age group. London: ONS; 2005.
  11. Stearns AT, Hole D, George WD, et al. Comparison of breast cancer mortality rates with those of ovarian and colorectal carcinoma. Br J Surg 2007;94(8):957-65.
  12. Eastern Cancer Registry and Information Centre (ECRIC). Personal communication.
  13. Engel J, Eckel R, Schubert-Fritschle G, et al. Moderate progress for ovarian cancer in the last 20 years: prolongation of survival, but no improvement in the cure rate. Eur J Cancer 2002;38:2435-45.
  14. Berrino F, De Angelis R, Sant M, et al. Survival for eight major cancers and all cancers combined for European adults diagnosed in 1995-99: results of the EUROCARE-4 study. Lancet Oncol 2007;8:773-83.
  15. Sant M, Allemani C, Santaquilani M, et al. EUROCARE-4. Survival of cancer patients diagnosed in 1995-1999. Results and commentary. Eur J Cancer 2009;45:931-91.
  16. Thomson CS, Forman D. Cancer survival in England and the influence of early diagnosis: what can we learn from recent EUROCARE results? Br J Cancer 2009;101:S102-S9.
  17. Coleman M, Forman D, Bryant H, et al. Cancer survival in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and the UK, 1995-2007 (the International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership): an analysis of population-based cancer registry data. Lancet 2011 8;377(9760):99-101.
  18. Abdel-Rahman M, Stockton D, Rachet B, et al. What if cancer survival in Britain were the same as in Europe: how many deaths are avoidable? Br J Cancer 2009;101:S115-S24.
Updated: 3 September 2012