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Ovarian Cancer Facts and Statistics

Posted on November 19, 2021
Medically reviewed by
Howard Goodman, M.D.
Article written by
Anastasia Climan

Living with ovarian cancer can be unnerving. However, facts and statistics about the condition can offer an objective view of the progress being made in detecting and treating ovarian cancer and improving survival rates. Raising awareness about ovarian cancer offers hope for a better future in the next generation of people around the world facing the condition. Knowing the latest facts and statistics about ovarian cancer can help shed light on your diagnosis.

Here’s how ovarian cancer affects different populations and which characteristics may place some people at higher risk.

How Common Is Ovarian Cancer?

Within the three main types of ovarian cancer are several subtypes. Here is a general breakdown of ovarian cancer rates and more specific information about the different types.

  • Globally, ovarian cancer is the 18th most common form of cancer.
  • Among women, ovarian cancer is the 7th most common type of cancer worldwide, representing 2.5 percent of cancers among women.
  • In 2018, there were approximately 235,081 people living with ovarian cancer in the U.S.
  • An estimated 21,410 new cases of ovarian cancer in 2021 are expected to make up 1.1 percent of cancer diagnoses.
  • Between 1985 to 2014, the U.S. saw a 29 percent decline in the incidence (rate of new cases) of ovarian cancer.

How Common Is Epithelial Ovarian Cancer?

  • Around 85 percent to 90 percent of ovarian cancers are epithelial ovarian cancer in the U.S.
  • 52 percent of epithelial tumors are serous, 10 percent are endometrioid, 6 percent are mucinous, and 6 percent are of the clear cell variety.

How Common Is Stromal Ovarian Cancer?

  • Stromal cancer makes up about 2 percent of ovarian cancer diagnoses in the U.S.

How Common Is Germ Cell Ovarian Cancer?

Who Gets Ovarian Cancer?

Various factors are associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer. Maintaining a healthy body weight and living a healthy lifestyle that includes a nutritious diet may help lower your chances of ovarian cancer and many other types of cancer. However, aside from lifestyle habits, there are some key circumstances that affect the development of ovarian cancer.

  • The lifetime risk of ovarian cancer is 1 out of every 78 women, or 1.3 percent.
  • The risk is greater in individuals with a family history of ovarian, colorectal, or breast cancer.
  • Inherited mutations (such as BRCA1 and BRCA2) are thought to contribute to about 20 percent of ovarian cancer cases.

Age Demographics

  • At age 40, the 10-year probability of being diagnosed is 1 out of 870 for U.S. women.
  • By age 70 and older, the 10-year probability goes up to 1 out of 265.
  • About 50 percent of people who get ovarian cancer are older than 63 years.

Race and Ethnicity

  • Asian American and Pacific Islander individuals have the lowest overall rates of ovarian cancer in the U.S.
  • The prevalence of ovarian cancer is about 30 percent higher in non-Hispanic white people than in Black people.
  • Stromal tumors are most commonly seen in Black individuals around age 30.

Learn more about the causes of ovarian cancer.

Ovarian Cancer Survival Rates and Outlook

The statistics on ovarian cancer survival rates are encouraging, especially in cases of early detection. As awareness increases and treatments improve, death from ovarian cancer is slowly but steadily declining.

  • Although ovarian cancer represents 2.5 percent of cancers in women in the U.S., it causes 5 percent of total cancer deaths in women.
  • 70 years is the median age of death from ovarian cancer.
  • In 2018, there were approximately 14,070 ovarian cancer deaths in the U.S., but the estimated number of ovarian cancer deaths for 2021 is 13,770.
  • Between 1976 and 2015, the ovarian cancer mortality rate in the U.S. went down by 33 percent, and this rate has continued to fall by about 2.7 percent each year from 2010 through 2019.
  • New cases of ovarian cancer have also gone down 3.3 percent every year between 2009 to 2018.

Survival Rates at Different Stages

  • 16.3 percent of cases in the U.S. are diagnosed at the localized or early stage, which has a 92.6 percent survival rate five years after diagnosis.
  • 21 percent of cases are diagnosed at the regional stage (spread to lymph nodes), which has a 74.8 percent five-year survival rate.
  • 57 percent of cases are diagnosed at the distant or later stage (metastasized cancer), which has a 30.3 percent survival rate.
  • 5 percent of cases are diagnosed at an unknown stage, which has a 27 percent survival rate.

Learn more about ovarian cancer outlook and prognosis.

Factors That Reduce Ovarian Cancer Risk

  • Those who take oral contraceptives (birth control) for five to nine years have a 35 percent lower risk of ovarian cancer.
  • Birth control’s protective effects may last for at least 30 years after stopping the pill.
  • Fallopian tube ligation — having your tubes cut, tied, or blocked permanently — may reduce ovarian cancer risk by about 30 percent.
  • A hysterectomy is thought to lower the risk of ovarian cancer by 33 percent.
  • Giving birth for the first time may provide a 40 percent reduction in ovarian cancer risk, and each subsequent birth may offer another 14 percent reduction.

Talk With Others Who Understand

MyOvarianCancerTeam is the social network for people with ovarian cancer and their loved ones. On MyOvarianCancerTeam, more than 3,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with ovarian cancer.

Are you living with ovarian cancer? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on MyOvarianCancerTeam.

Howard Goodman, M.D. is certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and specializes in the surgical management of women with gynecologic cancer. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.. Learn more about him here.
Anastasia Climan is a dietitian with over 10 years of experience in public health and medical writing. Learn more about her here.

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