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06/12/2009 - News

Age is a factor in ovarian cancer survival

By: Susan Aldridge, medical journalist, PhD

Younger women with ovarian cancer have a better chance of long-term survival than do those over 60, according to a new study.

Ovarian cancer is typically diagnosed at an advanced stage, making survival less likely. In fact, there has been little improvement in the long-term survival rate for breast cancer in the last 20 years.

Researchers at Stanford University in California have been looking at the impact of age on survival in ovarian cancer. They examined more than 28,000 ovarian cancer cases occurring between 1988 and 2001. Women diagnosed under the age of 60 were more likely to survive for five years or more than those over 60. For those under 30 - although the disease is rare in this group - survival rates were even better. In this group, 79 per cent were still alive after five years. For those between 30 and 60, the five year survival rate was 59 per cent and for those over 60 it was 35 per cent.

This contrasts with survival rates in breast cancer, where younger age is often linked to a more aggressive form of the disease. It may be that younger women with ovarian cancer get their disease diagnosed at an earlier stage and this gives them a better survival chance. There was also no difference in survival whether a woman was treated by having her womb removed as well as the ovaries or whether the womb was left intact. This means that younger women will not be disadvantaged if they have surgery that spares their fertility.

British Journal of Cancer 7th November 2006

Created on: 11/08/2006
Reviewed on: 06/12/2009

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