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The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2015, about 22,280 new cases of ovarian cancer will be diagnosed and 15,500 women will die of ovarian cancer in the United States.

According to the data, the mortality rates for ovarian cancer have not improved in forty years since the “War on Cancer” was declared. However, other cancers have shown a marked reduction in mortality, due to the availability of early detection tests and improved treatments. Unfortunately, this is not the case with ovarian cancer, which is still the deadliest of all gynecologic cancers.

Ovarian cancer survival rates are much lower than other cancers that affect women.
The relative five-year survival rate is 46 percent. Survival rates vary depending on the stage of diagnosis. Women diagnosed at an early stage have a much higher five-year survival rate than those diagnosed at a later stage.

  • Approximately 15 percent of ovarian cancer patients are diagnosed early.
  • Women diagnosed with breast cancer in 1975 experienced a five-year survival rate of 75.3 percent;
    today, the American Cancer Society estimates the rate to be 89 percent.
  • Women diagnosed with cervical cancer in 1975 experienced a five-year survival rate of 69 percent;
    today, the American Cancer Society estimates the rate to be 70 percent.
  • Women diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1975 experienced a five-year survival rate of 34.8 percent;
    today, the American Cancer Society estimates the rate to be 46 percent.

The Ovarian Cancer Symptoms Consensus Statement:
Historically ovarian cancer was called the “silent killer” because symptoms were not thought to develop until the chance of cure was poor. However, recent studies have shown this term is untrue and that the following symptoms are much more likely to occur in women with ovarian cancer than women in the general population. These symptoms include:

  • Bloating
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Urinary urgency or frequency
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly

Women with ovarian cancer report that symptoms are persistent and represent a change from normal for their bodies.
The frequency and/or number of such symptoms are key factors in the diagnosis of ovarian cancer. Several studies show that even early stage ovarian cancer can produce these symptoms.

Women who have these symptoms almost daily for more than a few weeks should see their doctor, preferably a gynecologist. Prompt medical evaluation may lead to detection at the earliest possible stage of the disease. Early stage diagnosis is associated with an improved prognosis.

Several other symptoms have been commonly reported by women with ovarian cancer. These symptoms include fatigue, indigestion, back pain, pain with intercourse, constipation and menstrual irregularities. However, these other symptoms are not as useful in identifying ovarian cancer because they are also found in equal frequency in women in the general population who do not have ovarian cancer.


Early detection of ovarian cancer saves women’s lives. No screening test exists that can test all women for ovarian cancer. The Pap test does not test for ovarian cancer; it screens for cervical cancer.

Not only do researchers need to develop an early detection test for ovarian cancer, like mammograms for breast cancer and Pap tests for cervical cancer, but also women and medical professionals need to become more aware of ovarian cancer symptoms.

At FamiliesROC we raise funds to help research an early detection test.