Stage 4 ovarian cancer is not curable. Ovarian cancer is a dangerous cancer because it is asymptomatic and is often not diagnosed until it is in its advanced stages. Between 2000 and 2010, the rates of diagnosis of ovarian cancer have remained relatively stable, with a decrease of less than 1 percent annually in the number of women diagnosed. The mortality rate and life expectancies have remained stable.
Stage IV Ovarian Cancer
Stage IV (any T, any N, M1) is the most advanced stage of ovarian cancer. In this stage the cancer has spread to the inside of the liver, the lungs or other organs located outside of the peritoneal cavity. The peritoneal cavity, or abdominal cavity is the area enclosed by the peritoneum, a membrane that lines the inner abdomen and covers most of its organs. Finding ovarian cancer cells in the fluid around the lungs (called pleural fluid) is also evidence of stage IV disease.
5-Year Survival Rate
Life expectancy rates are determined in cancer by looking at the 5-year survival rate of patients diagnosed with a certain stage of cancer. The type of cancer and the stage determine the survival rates and life expectancy. Five-year survival rates, for ovarian cancers and other cancers, account for factors like unrelated causes of death, when providing the statistics on 5-year survival. Generally, if patients live for the 5 years after diagnosis, mortality rates caused by the cancer fall dramatically.
For stage IV ovarian cancer, the 5-year survival rate is 17.5%.
According to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the median life expectancy for patients with late stage ovarian cancer is 2.95 years. The study is based on the projected 5-year survival rates and a mean survival rate of 1.97 years in patients aged 54 who were diagnosed with Stage IV ovarian cancer. Patients diagnosed with Stage I, II or III whose disease progressed to Stage IV had an additional 1 year added on to the median life expectancy because the progression from Stage I to Stage IV was assumed to take, on average, 1 year.
Survival Rates By Year
According to studies in the Annals of Medicine, the relative survival rate improved over time for those in Stage IV. For those diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer, the survival rates more than tripled as each year past with a 17% survival rate in the first year up to a 56% survival rate for patients who lived 5 years with the disease. According to their analysis of the 5-year survival rates, the survival rate for patients 1 year after diagnosis of Stage IV was 17%. For patients still alive after 1 year, the survival rate for the 2nd year was 24%. The third year, the survival rate for remaining patients rose to 30%, the fourth year, 47%, and the 5th year, 56%.
Only 19% of all ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed in Stage I or Stage II. 75% of patients diagnosed with ovarian cancer are diagnosed with Stage III or Stage IV ovarian cancer. The 5 year survival rate for ovarian cancer has only increased 8% from 1975 to 2009, and ovarian cancer has been the 5th leading cancer-related cause of death in women since 1999.