1 in 3 Women Survive Ovarian Cancer a Decade or More: Study

1 in 3 With Ovarian Cancer Live 10 Years or More

By Emily Willingham

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Aug. 11, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Ovarian cancer has a reputation as a swift killer that’s often detected at a late stage, but a new study suggests that up to one-third of the women who are handed the grim diagnosis survive at least 10 years.

“We think that this is good information to communicate to women newly diagnosed with ovarian cancer,” said study first author Rosemary Cress, an epidemiologist and associate adjunct professor in the department of public health sciences at the University of California, Davis. “Although ovarian cancer is a dangerous cancer, there is considerable variability and it is not always fatal.”

For their study, published online recently in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Cress and her co-authors looked at records for more than 11,000 women in California who had been diagnosed with a type of ovarian cancer between 1994 and 2001. They tracked survival information and other factors for this group up to 2011, comparing women who lived for 10 years or more with those who survived for shorter periods.

Factors associated with longer survival included younger age and having an early stage and low-grade tumor, the findings showed.

“Some of these factors are known to be inter-related,” said Michael Bookman, medical gynecologic oncologist at Arizona Oncology and director of the gynecologic oncology research program at US Oncology Research. “For example, younger patients tend to have low-grade tumors.”

Also affecting survival, he added, is how much cancer remains after the initial surgery. The new study, he said, “basically reinforces these points, emphasizing the importance of stage, age, tumor grade and tumor type.”

But Cress and her colleagues were also surprised to discover that some women who lived longer had high-risk cancers. Of the nearly 3,600 long-term survivors, 954 would have been classified as being at high risk of an earlier death because of their older age or the advanced stage of their cancer.

“Older patients are more likely to have other chronic health conditions,” Cress explained, and these conditions can affect how aggressively a patient can be treated.

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