Patients with solid tumors are at greatest risk for dying from their cancers in the five years following diagnosis. For most malignancies, deaths from other chronic diseases begin to exceed those from cancer at some point. As little is known about the causes of death among long-term survivors of ovarian cancer, we examined causes of death by years from diagnosis.
The Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database was used to identify women diagnosed with ovarian cancer between 1988 and 2012. We compared causes of death by stage, age, and interval time after diagnosis.
A total of 67,385 women were identified. For stage I neoplasms, 13.6% (CI, 13.0-14.2%) died from ovarian cancer, 4.2% (CI, 3.8-4.5%) from cardiovascular disease, 3.6% (CI, 3.3-3.9%) from other causes and 2.6% (CI, 2.4-2.9%) from other tumors; ovarian cancer was the leading cause of death until 7years after diagnosis after which time deaths are more frequently due to other causes. For those with stage III-IV tumors, 67.8% (CI, 67.3-68.2%) died from ovarian cancer, 2.8% (CI, 2.6-2.9%) from other causes, 2.3% (CI, 2.2-2.4%) from cardiovascular disease and 1.9% (CI, 1.7-2.0%) from other cancers; ovarian cancer was the most frequent cause of death in years 1-15 after which time deaths were more commonly due to other causes.
The probability of dying from ovarian cancer decreases with time. Ovarian cancer remains the most common cause of death for 15years after diagnosis in women with stage III-IV tumors.