Despite advances in chemotherapy, the death rate from ovarian cancer has not changed significantly in more than four decades. Ovarian cancer remains the most important cause of death from reproductive cancers in women. In fact, half of all deaths from cancer of the genital tract are due to ovarian cancer.

The statistics related to ovarian cancer are staggering:

  • Ovarian cancer is the 5th leading cause of cancer related deaths among women.
  • One in 65 women in the United States will develop ovarian cancer.
  • A woman dies from ovarian cancer every 45 minutes in the United States.
  • The majority of women with ovarian cancer are diagnosed with advanced disease (Stage III or IV).
  • Approximately half of the patients with ovarian cancer are diagnosed before the age of 55 and most patients diagnosed with advanced disease do not live longer than two or three years beyond the time of diagnosis.
  • The need for early detection is crucial – if caught in Stage I, the five-year survival rate from ovarian cancer is over 90 percent. If caught in Stage III the survival rate is less than 30 percent.

The critical factors accounting for these statistics can be summarized as following:

  • Lack of early detection methods for ovarian cancer. As a result, two-thirds of patients have advanced disease that has already spread to the abdominal cavity and sometimes also the chest at the time of diagnosis.
  • Lack of prevention methods. Except for rare hereditary ovarian cancers (which account for less than 10 percent of all ovarian cancers), we do not understand the cause of ovarian cancer and therefore, cannot define populations of women at risk. In addition, short of removing the ovaries surgically, we do not have effective prevention strategies.
  • Failure of current therapeutics. The vast majority of patients currently diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer will fail conventional chemotherapy within one to three years.

In This Section

Advanced Therapeutics Program

Detailed information about the Advanced Therapeutics Program.

Early Detection and Prevention Program

A lack of early detection or prevention strategies is presently a major cause of poor outcome in ovarian cancer patients. A screening test for ovarian cancer could save many lives.

Ovarian Cancer Biology and Pathogenesis Program

Learn more about the Ovarian Cancer Biology and Pathogenesis Program.

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