June 01, 2019

Ovarian cancer

Update on therapy

It's difficult to detect ovarian cancer in its earliest stages. When ovarian cancer has spread, initial treatment is often successful, but relapse is common. Progress has been made in solving these key problems, and there's optimism that today's research will lead to further improvements in care.

Ovarian cancer

Initial treatment of ovarian cancer is effective and usually leads to disease remission. Despite this, the average survival rate five years after diagnosis is only 45%.

Curing or managing ovarian cancer is often difficult for two key reasons: There's no reliable way to detect ovarian cancer in its earliest stages when treatment is often successful. In addition, for the 75% of women with later stage ovarian cancer that has spread, successful initial treatment is often followed by a relapse that's more difficult to treat.

Doctors and researchers are working hard to improve the odds for the roughly 22,000 U.S. women and the estimated 250,000 women worldwide diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year. Numerous gains have been made in recent years.

The search for effective early detection options and new ways to minimize recurrence is in high gear with promising new options emerging. There's optimism that current research and clinical trials will lead to increased cure rates, longer stretches of cancer-free remission and stabilization, and containment of the cancer so that women who have the disease can lead reasonably normal lives.

Early detection

Symptoms of ovarian cancer often don't occur in the earlier stages of the disease, so the cancer often progresses without detection. When symptoms do occur, they can be vague and easy to chalk up to other more common problems. Symptoms may include abdominal discomfort or vague pain, urinary frequency or urgency, a feeling of fullness even after a light meal, bloating, persistent indigestion, gas, nausea,...