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Significance of Early Detection
Ovarian cancer has the highest mortality rate among women's reproductive cancers and ranks in the top five causes of cancer death among women in the United States. Currently there are no simple preventive measures to significantly reduce risk. The prognosis for women with advanced ovarian cancer is very poor, with five-year survival rates drastically falling for stage III when the cancer has spread into the peritoneal cavity and beyond (stage IV) (Table 1).

Table 1. Five year survival rates by stage at presentation (taken from (Rosenthal and Jacobs, 1998), based on data from (Nguyen et al., 1993))

FIGO stage

Proportion of cases (%)

5-year survival (%)

Ia

19.3

92.1

Ib

2.7

84.9

Ic

8.1

82.4

IIa

2.7

69.0

IIb

4.2

56.4

IIc

3.0

51.4

IIIa

6.9

39.3

IIIb

6.6

25.5

IIIc

18.0

17.1

IV

28.3

11.6



Conventional treatment has a poor success rate for disseminated stage IV disease. Conversely, the prospects of patients with early-stage ovarian cancer confined to the ovaries (Stage 1) are more optimistic; with treatment more than 80-90% survive five years after diagnosis. However, 70% of patients with ovarian cancer have already advanced disseminated disease at the time of initial diagnosis (Rosenthal and Jacobs, 1998).

Improved screening to permit early diagnosis of ovarian cancer will greatly improve the outlook for ovarian cancer patients using conventional treatment. Therefore, many of our research efforts are directed at developing an improved test to screen all women.

Article on screening and early diagnosis in CAP July 2002.


  
     
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