Most cases of ovarian cancer tend to develop in women at the age of 50 years and over; however, this is not always the case, as any woman may be at a risk from developing it. Although the cause is not exactly clear, there are certain factors that may influence the possibilities of one woman being diagnosed with ovarian cancer (at any age), and another not.
The problem with ovarian cancer, is that most of the time it is usually diagnosed while at a late stage (stage III or later) after having already done much of the damage. And, although ovarian cancer may be more curable with an early stage diagnosis, it is less likely to be cured when a stage III or later development has taken place (depending on the type of cancer the woman is diagnosed with).
How many different types exist?
1. Epithelial Ovarian Cancer - is the most common type (responsible for around 9 out of every 10 cases) and predominant in women aged 50 years and over.
2. Germ Cell Ovarian Cancer – is less common (responsible for around 1 in 10 cases) and more likely to be found in a younger woman, although it is highly treatable (even when diagnosed at a late stage).
3. Stromal Ovarian Cancer - is very rare (responsible for a small percentage of diagnosed cases [between 5% - 8%]), although any woman may be at risk from developing it.
What are their risk factors?
Depending on certain factors, such as: age (most cases occur at the age of 50 years and over), ovulation factors (the less a woman ovulates the lower the risks [taking the birth pill, having children, and breast-feeding reduce the risks]), being over-weight or obese, not bearing children, taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT), or a late menopause increase the risks. However, sterilization and hysterectomy both reduce the risk factors.
Another important factor that must be taken into consideration are the genetics of the woman involved (a family history of cancer can be very influential to the risks).
The following statistics are from previous known cases:
1. Life-time risk of a woman being diagnosed with the disease is 1.37%.
2. Mid-range age risk of developing the disease is 63 years old.
3. Average age for developing the disease is between 35 – 54 years old.
4. Caucasian women are more at risk with 13.3 cases per 100,000.
5. Approximately 92% of women diagnosed at stage I, will still be alive 5-years later.
6. The average overall survival rate for all ovarian cancers is a 45% 5-year survival (due to late stage diagnosis being common).
Any woman may be at risk of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer, although many individual factors must be considered first before estimating their prognosis (life expectancy) and possibility of being cured. Statistics may vary depending from which authority they were taken from, and should only be used as a guidance.