Ovarian Cancer Prognosis and Survival Rates

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: May 2021

If you have been diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer, you may hear your doctor talk about your prognosis and survival rate. Prognosis is a term for the likely outcome of your condition. It is like a forecast. Survival rates are how long someone with your diagnosis will live, on average, based on national statistics.

Prognosis and survival rates can vary based on factors like:1

  • Your overall health before your diagnosis
  • Any other health conditions you may have
  • Your specific type of disease
  • The stage of your cancer
  • Your response to treatment

It is important to remember that while statistics reflect trends of an overall group of people with a condition, you are not a statistic. Statistics do not predict your unique situation and what you may experience. What statistics can do is give you a general idea of how others with a similar course of the disease have fared.

What do prognosis and survival rates mean?

Prognosis is the likely outcome or the course of a given disease. It can also refer to the chance of recovery or your cancer coming back after treatment (known as recurrence). This is often related to survival rates, which are estimates based on large groups of people with a similar disease.1

Survival rates in cancer are often called 5-year relative survival rates. These rates compare people with the same type and stage of cancer to the overall population without cancer. This means if the 5-year relative survival rate for a given disease is 70 percent, people with that cancer are about 70 percent as likely as people without that disease to live at least 5 years after diagnosis.2

What is the survival rate of ovarian cancer?

The survival rate of ovarian cancer can vary, depending on the type of ovarian cancer you have and the spread of the disease. The National Cancer Institute groups cancers into 3 groups instead of numbered stages:2

  • Localized – No sign the cancer has spread beyond the ovaries
  • Regional – The cancer has spread beyond the ovaries to nearby organs or lymph nodes
  • Distant – Cancer has spread to organs far away from the ovaries, like the liver or lungs

The type of ovarian cancer is a factor in survival rate, as well. The types include:2

  • Invasive epithelial tumors
  • Stromal tumors
  • Germ cell tumors

It is important to note that survival rates apply to the ovarian cancer stage when you are first diagnosed. They do not apply to ovarian cancers that have come back after treatment.2

Invasive epithelial ovarian cancer survival rates

For invasive epithelial ovarian cancer, the 5-year survival rates are:2

  • Localized – 92 percent
  • Regional – 76 percent
  • Distant – 30 percent
  • All stages combined – 47 percent

Ovarian stromal tumor survival rates

For ovarian stromal tumors, the 5-year survival rates are:2

  • Localized – 98 percent
  • Regional – 89 percent
  • Distant – 54 percent
  • All stages combined – 88 percent

Ovarian germ cell tumor survival rates

For ovarian germ cell tumors, the 5-year survival rates are:2

  • Localized – 98 percent
  • Regional – 94 percent
  • Distant – 74 percent
  • All stages combined – 93 percent

Things to consider

Treatments change all the time, and these numbers do not necessarily reflect more recent developments in treating ovarian cancer. The numbers and survival rates given are to be used as a guideline.

It is important to talk with your doctor about your specific disease and health conditions. Your doctor can talk with you about your survival rates and what to expect with your treatment and outcome.

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