It’s normal for ovarian cancer patients to want to know their prognosis. While it’s impossible to predict exactly what will happen in any individual case, there are numerous factors that significantly influence a woman’s outlook. An accurate diagnosis, optimal surgical approach and state-of-the-art, individualized ovarian cancer treatment can have a positive impact on a patient’s outcome and quality of life.
Factors that influence ovarian cancer survival rates
Some of the major factors that influence survival rates of ovarian cancer patients include:
- What type of ovarian cancer is present (epithelial ovarian carcinoma, stromal cell tumor or germ cell tumor)
- The cancer’s stage at diagnosis
- The timing of treatment and surgical approach following diagnosis
- The individualization of the treatment plan, as every case is unique
- The patient’s age and overall health
- How the cancer responds to treatment
- The expertise of the ovarian cancer treatment team
There’s currently no reliable screening method available for ovarian cancer, so it’s often difficult to diagnose in an early stage. Because of this, it’s crucial for women to be especially mindful of any unusual changes in their body (such as abdominal bloating, pelvic pain and changes in bowel habits) and promptly speak with a physician if they occur.
Ovarian cancer survival rates SEER stage
The National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program monitors a large number of cases nationwide and provides average survival rates. The SEER five-year survival rates—meaning how many patients are still alive five years after diagnosis—are as follows:
- 1% for women diagnosed in an early stage
- 5% for women diagnosed in an intermediate stage
- 8% for women diagnosed in an advanced stage
For all ovarian cancer stages combined, the relative five-year survival rate is 49.7%.
It’s important to note that the above survival rates for ovarian cancer reflect cases diagnosed between 2012 and 2018. So, it naturally follows that many women experience better outcomes than these figures suggest, as treatments and prognoses for ovarian cancer patients are steadily improving. These survival rates are also general averages and do not factor in a patient’s age, overall health or ovarian cancer type.
Ovarian cancer survival rates by age
Age at diagnosis is a key factor in a woman’s ovarian cancer prognosis. This is observed in the National Cancer Institute’s age-based five-year relative survival rates, which are:
- 8% for women younger than 50
- 7% for women between the ages of 50 and 64
- 34% for women older than 64
The large majority of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed in postmenopausal women, with 63 being the average age at diagnosis. It’s not completely clear why younger women have notably higher survival rates, although earlier diagnoses and more aggressive treatment strategies are thought to play a role. According to the National Library of Medicine, more than 40% of women ages 85 and older did not receive any definitive treatment following an ovarian cancer diagnosis.
Survival rates by ovarian cancer type
Another factor that influences ovarian cancer survival rates is cancer type. The SEER relative five-year survival rates for each of the main types of ovarian cancer are as follows:
- 49% for epithelial ovarian carcinoma
- 90% for stromal cell tumors
- 93% for germ cell tumors
These figures reflect cases diagnosed between 2011 and 2017. The most common type of ovarian cancer is epithelial ovarian carcinoma, which makes up between 85% and 90% of all cases.
Survival rates of ovarian cancer following a hysterectomy
A hysterectomy is a surgery that removes all or part of a woman’s uterus. In a total hysterectomy, the uterus and cervix are removed, sometimes along with the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
Surgically removing the ovaries can significantly improve outcomes for women who are diagnosed with early-stage ovarian cancer. However, most patients are diagnosed after the cancer has spread (metastasized) from the ovaries to other areas of the body, so it’s difficult to gauge how hysterectomy procedures impact survival rates. Other factors, including age, cancer type and stage at diagnosis, play a larger role in a woman’s prognosis.
For the best cancer outcomes, choose Moffitt first.
Moffitt Cancer Center’s ovarian cancer treatment outcomes are nearly 1.5 times higher than the national average. For women diagnosed with advanced-stage ovarian cancer, Moffitt’s 42.9% survival rate is notably higher than the SEER average of 30.8%.
One of the many factors that contribute to Moffitt’s increasingly positive patient outcomes is the diverse expertise of our gynecologic cancer team, who routinely treat complex and uncommon types of ovarian cancer. Our patients receive highly individualized treatment plans and compassionate supportive care in a single, convenient location. Furthermore, as Florida’s only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, Moffitt leads ambitious ovarian cancer research initiatives and promising clinical trials that are improving the outlook for patients now and into the future.
We encourage you to contact Moffitt if you have questions regarding ovarian cancer survival rates and how they apply to your individual circumstances. You can also visit Moffitt’s gynecological clinic for diagnostic services or to receive a second opinion without a referral. To schedule an appointment, call 1-888-663-3488 or complete our new patient registration form online. We understand that timing is key to successful cancer treatment, which is why we’ll connect you to an appropriate specialist within 24 hours of contact.
Medically reviewed by Robert Wenham, MD, Chair, Gynecologic Oncology Program
National Cancer Institute: Cancer Stat Facts – Ovarian Cancer
National Library of Medicine: Ovarian Cancer – Survival and Treatment Differences by Age
American Cancer Society: Survival Rates for Ovarian Cancer