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Ovarian Cancer Prognosis

written by: R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen • edited by: Emma Lloyd • updated: 6/10/2011

Ovarian cancer is a scary diagnosis to get. Read on to learn more about ovarian cancer prognosis and survival rates.

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    Ovarian cancer survival rates are often what are on a patient's mind when she get that earth-shattering diagnosis. Ovarian cancer is a cancer originating in the ovaries. This is the fifth most common cancer affecting women, and this cancer results in more deaths than any other cancers of the female reproductive system, according to MedlinePlus.

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    Who is at Risk?

    Ovarian Cancer Prognosis Several factors can increase a woman's risk of developing this deadly cancer. A small number of patients develop this cancer due to a BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic mutation. Women who have several children early in life are at a higher risk. Women who have a family or personal history of breast cancer are at a higher risk. Women who are older than 55 years old have the highest risk and account for almost two-thirds of all ovarian cancer deaths. Women between the ages of 35 and 54 account for nearly 25 percent of all deaths from ovarian cancer. Estrogen replacement therapy taken for five years or longer has been shown to possibly increase a woman's risk of developing this cancer. Other possible risk factors may include no history of childbirth, personal history of colon cancer, using talc on the female genitals, and use of fertility drugs.

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    Unfortunately, it is rare that this cancer is diagnosed in its early stages. By the time most diagnoses are made, this cancer is in an advanced stage, resulting in a poor ovarian cancer prognosis. Statistics include:

    • Approximately 76 percent of patients with this cancer survive one year after being diagnosed
    • If a patient is diagnosed early and treatment is administered before the cancer has a chance to spread outside the affected ovary, about 94 percent of patients hit the five-year survival mark
    • Approximately 45 percent of patients will live longer than five years after they are diagnosed
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    Death Rates and Survival Rates

    Death from ovarian cancer is still happening far more often than patients, families and health care providers would like. Between the years 1996 and 2002, 44.7 percent of patients with this cancer hit the five-year survival mark. The five-year survival rate broken down by race are:

    • 39.5 percent of black women hit the five-year survival mark
    • 44.2 percent of white women hit the five-year survival mark
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    Factors Affecting these Rates

    What can affect a woman's prognosis with this cancer? The most common factors include:

    • The location of the cancer
    • The type of the cancer
    • The stage of the cancer and how much it has spread, or metastasized
    • The patient's age
    • The patient's general health
    • How well the patient responds to treatment
    • Whether the cancer has come back (recurred) or has just been diagnosed for the first time
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    MedlinePlus. (2009). Ovarian Cancer. Retrieved on September 9, 2010 from MedlinePlus:

    Garcia, A. A. MD. (2010). Ovarian Cancer. Retrieved on September 9, 2010 from Medscape:

    Schoenstadt, A. MD. (2009). Ovarian Cancer Prognosis. Retrieved on September 9, 2010 from eMedTV:

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    Image Credits

    Upset Woman: Tom Merton - Getty Images