Like other cancers, survival rates become lower as ovarian cancer progresses.

If you are living with ovarian cancer, you’re probably wondering about your prognosis. While knowing your prognosis can be helpful, it’s important to know that it’s only a general guideline. Your individual outlook will depend on many factors, such as your age and overall health.

Read on to learn more about the 5-year survival rates for different ovarian cancer stages and what the numbers mean.

The 5-year relative survival rate for all types of ovarian cancer is 49.1 percent.

People with ovarian cancer will have one of three types of tumors. The type of tumor you have will impact your outlook.

  • Epithelial. These tumors develop in the layer of tissue on the outside of the ovaries.
  • Stromal. These tumors grow in hormone-producing cells.
  • Germ cell. These tumors develop in egg-producing cells.

About 90 percent of ovarian cancers involve epithelial tumors. Stromal tumors represent about 5 percent of ovarian tumors, while germ cell tumors are significantly rarer.

Early detection generally results in a better outlook. When diagnosed and treated in stage 1, the 5-year relative survival rate is 94 percent. Only about 20% of ovarian cancers are diagnosed in stage 1.

In this article, we will also cover survival rates for fallopian tube cancer. Doctors often treat this in the same way as ovarian cancer.

Both the stage and the type of ovarian cancer factor into your individual outlook. There are multiple methods doctors use to define cancer stages.

The Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) registry program of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is the authoritative source on cancer survival in the United States. It collects comprehensive information for different types of cancer in populations within the country.

The SEER registry can help you better understand the rate of survival for your stage of ovarian cancer for each year after diagnosis.

The SEER registry uses a simplified approach to staging. It roughly correlates with other staging systems as follows:

  • Localized. Cancer is limited to the place where it started, with no sign that it has spread. This correlates roughly with stage 1 disease.
  • Regional. Cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, tissues, or organs. This encompasses stage 2 and 3 disease.
  • Distant. Cancer has spread to distant parts of the body. This indicates stage 4 disease.

Since fewer women have stage 1 or “localized” ovarian cancer, the overall prognosis for regional or distant disease can be broken down by year since diagnosis.

For example, factoring in all tumor types, for women with distant spread (or stage 4 disease) of ovarian cancer, the percentage of women in the U.S. population surviving 1 year is over 69%.

All stagesLocalizedRegionalDistant
Times since diagnosisPercent survivingPercent survivingPercent survivingPercent surviving
At diagnosis100100100100
1 year76.4 97.69069.3
2 years66.296.284.555.1
3 years58.
4 years52.193.876.835.4
5 years47.392.773.729
6 years44.191.671.524.8
7 years41.890.969.821.9
8 years39.990.46819.6
9 years38.589.466.818
10 years37.68966.216.8

For more details, including a visual graph, see the SEER registry of survival rates for ovarian cancer by stage and time since diagnosis.

The exact type of ovarian cancer you have can also affect your survival rate.

The 5-year survival rates for epithelial ovarian cancer

StageSurvival rate
All stages48%

The 5-year survival rates for ovarian stromal tumors

StageSurvival rate
All stages88%

The 5-year survival rates for ovarian germ cell tumors

StageSurvival rate
All stages93%

The 5-year survival rates for fallopian tube cancer

StageSurvival rate
All stages57%

One of the first things you’ll want to know is the stage of your ovarian cancer. Staging is a way of describing how far the cancer has spread and can indicate how aggressive your cancer is. Knowing the stage helps your cancer care team formulate a treatment plan and gives you some idea of what to expect.

As well as the above SEER stages, doctors can determine ovarian cancer stages using the FIGO (International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics) staging system.

This system defines ovarian cancer in one of four stages and takes into account:

  • the size of the tumor
  • how deeply the tumor has invaded tissues in and around the ovaries
  • the cancer’s spread to distant areas of the body (metastasis)

Doctors can more accurately determine the size of the primary tumor through surgery. Accurate staging is important in helping you and your cancer care team understand the chances that your cancer treatment will be curative.

Stage 1

In stage 1, the cancer has not spread beyond the ovaries, according to the American Cancer Society.

Stage 1A means the cancer is only in one ovary. In stage 1B, the cancer is in both ovaries.

Stage 1C means that one or both ovaries contain cancer cells, and one of the following situations is also found:

  • The outer capsule broke during surgery.
  • The capsule burst before surgery.
  • There are cancer cells on the outside of an ovary.
  • Cancer cells are found in fluid washings from the abdomen.

Stage 2

In stage 2 ovarian cancer, the cancer is in one or both ovaries and has spread to elsewhere within the pelvis.

Stage 2A means it has gone from the ovaries to the fallopian tubes, the uterus, or to both.

Stage 2B indicates the cancer has migrated to nearby organs like the bladder, sigmoid colon, or rectum.

Stage 3

In stage 3 ovarian cancer, the cancer is found in one or both ovaries, as well as in the lining of the abdomen, or it has spread to lymph nodes in the abdomen.

In Stage 3A, the cancer is found in other pelvic organs and in lymph nodes within the abdominal cavity (retroperitoneal lymph nodes) or in the abdominal lining.

Stage 3B is when the cancer has spread to nearby organs within the pelvis. Cancer cells may be found on the outside of the spleen or liver or in the lymph nodes.

Stage 3C means that larger deposits of cancer cells are found outside the spleen or liver, or that it has spread to the lymph nodes.

Stage 4

Stage 4 is the most advanced stage of ovarian cancer. It means the cancer has spread to distant areas or organs in your body.

In stage 4A, cancer cells are present in the fluid around the lungs.

Stage 4B means that it has reached the inside of the spleen or liver, distant lymph nodes, lungs, and bones.

Doctors base ovarian cancer survival statistics on the stage in which ovarian cancer was first diagnosed.

They are estimates and don’t take into account factors that may improve your outlook, such as your age, overall health, and how well your cancer responds to treatment.

Because these statistics relate to people who were diagnosed with ovarian cancer at least 5 years previously, treatments have improved since then, so their outlook may be better today.

The general trend has been lower numbers of new cases, about 1 to 2 percent each year between the 1980s and 2017. Analysis of outcomes has also shown better survival rates — an increase of 1 to 2 percent per year between 2009 and 2018.

Relative 5-year survival rate estimates the percentage of people with cancer who will survive 5 years after diagnosis, in relation to the general populace.

Researchers calculate the number by dividing the percentage of patients with cancer who survive the period, by the percentage of the general population of the same sex and age who are also alive at the end of the 5 years.

Honest talks with your healthcare professionals will help you make informed decisions about your treatment for ovarian cancer.

These are some of the questions to ask your cancer care team:

  • What type of ovarian cancer is it, and has it spread?
  • Will any tests be necessary before deciding on treatment?
  • What do you recommend as my treatment options?
  • What is the goal of the treatment, and how long will it last?
  • If there are treatment side effects, what can be done to reduce them?
  • What type of follow-up will be needed after treatment?
  • What should I watch for to see if the cancer has returned after treatment?

Keep in mind that ovarian cancer survival rates are estimates and do not take into account other factors that may affect your personal outlook.

Your cancer care team can determine your most effective treatment options based on the stage and type of your ovarian cancer when it is first diagnosed.