The number of women dying from ovarian cancer in England has fallen by a fifth, new figures have revealed.
In 2001 11.2 women in every 100,000 died from the disease but in 2010 this had decreased to 8.8 per 100,000. And a report by the National Cancer Intelligence Network showed the actual number of deaths had fallen from 3,820 in 2001 to 3,453 two years ago.
The biggest decrease in fatal cases of ovarian cancer was among women in their forties, fifties and sixties.
In the mid 1980s 57% of ovarian cancer patients were alive a year after diagnosis but this has now increased to 73%. And while one in three women survived for at least five years in the 1980s, 44% now reach that milestone.
But the research showed age was a major factor in a patient’s likelihood of surviving. The older a woman is the more likely she is to die as a result of her ovarian cancer.
The report reveals that 84% of women under the age of 40 live for at least five years after learning they have ovarian cancer. But this survival rate falls to 14% among those aged 85 and over.
Study author and gynaecological oncologist Dr Andy Nordin, from East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust, said the report showed an encouraging drop in the rates of women dying from ovarian cancer, which is a difficult disease to treat.
Macmillan Cancer Support’s head of research and evidence Dr Siobhan McClelland welcomed the news that fewer women in England were passing away as a result of ovarian cancer.
But she said she was disappointed to see how low survival rates were amongst older women.
She claimed older patients were often not given the same level of treatment as younger people, making them less likely to be able to beat the disease.
She added: “Too often decisions about their treatment are based on their age alone, not their overall physical and mental health. This needs to change.”
Dr McClelland said pilot schemes involving older people had been carried out by Macmillan, Age UK and the Department of Health and the results from those would soon be made public.