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Ovarian Cancer Survival Rate Improving, Study Shows

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New research shows that more women are surviving ovarian cancer today than they did 20 years ago.

The American Cancer Society estimates that 21,000 American women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year, with 14,000 dying of the disease during that same period. Still, experts say the odds of surviving ovarian cancer are far better today than they were two decades ago.

Now, a new study lends weight to that position. A team of researchers working under Dr. Jason Wright, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, recently examined roughly 50,000 women diagnosed with ovarian cancer between 1975 and 2011. They found that a woman diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2006 was 50 percent more likely to survive than a woman diagnosed with the disease in the mid-1970s.

Specifically, women with stage 1 cancers were 51 percent more likely to survive in 2006 when compared to 1975. Meanwhile, women with stage 3 and 4 tumors were 49 percent more likely to survive when compared to women given the same diagnosis three decades earlier.

“They’re living with the disease for longer and longer periods of time as we have new chemotherapies, new drugs, new way to deliver drugs for ovarian cancer,” Wright said.

Nevertheless, ovarian cancer remains a serious health threat for women. It’s particularly dangerous because its symptoms–including abnormal periods, pain in the abdomen, back pain, and weight gain or loss–can be mild or even nonexistent.

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