Potential and Limitations in Early Diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer

  • Nicole Urban
  • Charles Drescher
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 622)

Five-year survival rates for invasive epithelial ovarian cancer have changed little in recent decades, remaining constant at about 30% when cancer has spread outside the ovaries, and about 90% when disease is confined to the ovaries. Ten-year survival for ovarian carcinoma varies greatly according to the stage at diagnosis (1) and survival is best when cancer is confined to the ovary at the time of diagnosis (Fig. 1); even patients with high-grade serous tumors do well if they are diagnosed while the tumors are confined to the ovary (Fig. 2).

The goal of screening is to reduce mortality by detecting cancer early. The potential reduction in mortality is great, because currently fewer than 25% of cases are confined to the ovary at diagnosis. Interest in diagnostic markers that can be measured in blood products is particularly high, as several promising marker panels have been reported in the last decade (2, 3). However, using these markers to detect ovarian cancer early enough to reduce mortality remains challenging because screening needs to identify cancer before symptoms occur, early enough that the disease is still curable. It is well established that the best screening tests detect cancer before it becomes invasive, by identifying precursor lesions and enabling prevention of invasive cancer through early intervention.


Ovarian Cancer Ovarian Cancer Screening Invasive Epithelial Ovarian Cancer Endometrioid Ovarian Carcinoma Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center 
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© Springer 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicole Urban
  • Charles Drescher

There are no affiliations available

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