While it's true that most cancers see an annual increase in the number of new incidences and deaths from the previous year, what many people don’t realize is that the majority of those rates of increase are slowing down. For many cancers, including ovarian cancer, incidence and death rates have been on the decline for years despite annual increases in both deaths and new cases of ovarian cancer.

Incidence Rates Continue Their Plunge

According to the American Cancer Society, it is estimated that 21,880 women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2010, an increase of over 300 cases from the previous year. Despite that increase, statistics prove the amount of new ovarian cancer cases increases by a little less each year, which is why we can say rates are on the decline in ovarian cancer incidences. In fact, ovarian cancer incidence rates have been on a downward trend since 1985. From 2001 to 2007, the incidence rate of ovarian cancer decreased by over 2 percent per year.

The fact that ovarian cancer and many other types of cancer are experiencing a decline in incidence rates is a testament to the advancements that have been made in early detection test technology and public awareness of these deadly diseases.

Death Rates Slowly Decreasing

Death rates for ovarian cancer have not seen the kind of decline that the disease’s incidence rates have experienced. Whereas incidence rates have been falling for over two decades, ovarian cancer death rates have fluctuated greatly over that time. According to the National Cancer Institute, ovarian cancer death rates rose 0.3 percent each year from 1982 to 1992. From 1992 to 1998, the rates fell each year by 1.2 percent. From 1998 to 2002, the rates again began to rise by 0.8 percent annually. Most recently, the rates have leaned the other way and are falling again by 1.7 percent a year.

There are a number of different factors which can affect these up-and-down death rates for ovarian cancer since the early 1980s, and some have argued that increased awareness and exposure of the disease in the public eye may have inadvertently led to some deaths being blamed on ovarian cancer when other conditions were responsible. The bottom line, though, is that death rates in ovarian cancer are experiencing their largest decline since the 1970s.