Ovarian Cancer Still a Silent Killer

Armen Hareyan's picture

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), ovarian cancer accounts for 4 percent of all cancers among women and ranks fifth among all female cancer deaths. And while mortality rates for other cancers have declined over time, the death rate for this disease has not changed much in the last 50 years.

"The real problem with ovarian cancer is screening for it because the incidence is so low," says David Mutch, MD, chief of gynecologic oncology at the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine.

"It's not like breast cancer where it shows up in one in eight women, with ovarian cancer it's more like one in a hundred."


With awareness of the disease so important, the Siteman Cancer Center helps the ACS raise awareness of the disease during Ovarian Cancer Awareness month in September.

Education about ovarian cancer is essential, as almost 70 percent of women with the common epithelial ovarian cancer are not diagnosed until the disease is advanced in stage.

That's why when word of a new test to detect ovarian cancer makes headlines, it grabs people's attention. "The reason that screening tests don't work is that the prevalence of the disease is so low that tests must be very sensitive and specific to reliably detect the disease," says Dr. Mutch.

Many news reports hailed CA-125 as the holy grail of ovarian cancer detection