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In the war on cancer, ovarian cancer is still winning

by on April 16, 2012

Ovarian cancer mortality rates have not decreased in the past forty years. That’s a sobering statistic, isn’t it? The mortality rates for many other cancers have decreased during that time period – thanks in large part to the War on Cancer movement that began in 1971. In spite of the overall decline in mortality rates, ovarian cancer remains just as deadly as it ever was.

Why has ovarian cancer bucked the trend? One reason is simple – the lack of an early detection test.

The awareness movement has led to increased early detection of breast cancer. Over 90 percent of the time, breast cancer is diagnosed while it’s still localized or has only spread to the regional lymph nodes. When it’s diagnosed very early (which it is approximately 60 percent of the time), breast cancer has over a 98 percent 5-year survival rate. Even when breast cancer is diagnosed after it has spread to the regional lymph nodes, the survival rate is approximately 83 percent.

In contrast, ovarian cancer is diagnosed while it is still localized or regional only 32 percent of the time.  It’s much more likely that ovarian cancer will be diagnosed once the cancer has spread to more distant locations in the body.

These statistics from the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance tell a sad story:

  • Although ovarian cancer is the ninth most common cancer among women, it is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related death among women.
  • Ovarian cancer is the deadliest of the gynecologic cancers.
  • A woman’s lifetime risk of developing invasive ovarian cancer is 1 in 71; her risk of dying from it is 1 in 95.

Taking these statistics into account, it’s clear that early detection is key to survival. It is essential that we find a way to increase early detection of ovarian cancer in order to increase the survival rate. We need to increase education and awareness, and we need to fund research to help find both a cure and a reliable diagnostic tool.

As I’ve noted before, we need to take the lessons of the pink ribbon, and figure out how to apply them to the teal ribbon. We’ll be continuing to explore this idea in our next few posts – stay tuned for more!



From → education

  1. Ovarian Cancer scares me since I am definitely considered *at risk*. I think part of the reason that the pink ribbon is so popular is that well…it’s about boobs. Who doeesn’t love boobs?! Where they have been an openly discussed, visual part of the landscape for a long time, the ovaries are kind of the shy kid. No one discusses their uterus when they’re out with friends. Those ovaries don’t have any cute nicnames (“the twins”). It’s not…fun. Which is a weird word to use when discussing a cancer, but that’s what the pink ribbon marketing team has done, they have made it fun to support their cause. Yes, there’s some seriousness there, but they’ve made the whole thing less scary. That’s some good marketing.

    • wantmorepuppies permalink

      You make a good point. It’s weird to think of “fun” in this context, but it’s kind of true. Though I’ve also read articles criticizing some of the “save the boobies” talk for trying to make cancer sexy. I guess it’s something of a fine line.

      I wonder how we can find a way to market ovarian cancer to get it out there.

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