Toronto, Canada, February 1, 2022 – Days before World Cancer Day (February 4), the World Ovarian Cancer Coalition (Coalition) has released a global data briefing with sobering projections about the loss of women to ovarian cancer worldwide and is calling for urgent action and global prioritization of the disease.
“We need to recognize ovarian cancer as the significant global health challenge that it is and take immediate action today to address its trajectory,’’ said Clara MacKay, CEO of the Coalition. “We are seeing a steady increase in women diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year. We need a collective, global commitment and practical action at the country level to bolster efforts to prevent, diagnose, and treat women who are at risk or who have ovarian cancer. “
Ovarian cancer is one of the deadliest female cancers with approximately half of women dying within five years of diagnosis. Survival rates for the disease are low globally but are particularly poor in low-income settings. By 2040 incidence and mortality will have jumped disproportionately in low-income countries, with Africa’s numbers alone almost doubling.
Stark projections for the near future
Key findings and projections highlighted in the Coalition’s Global Ovarian Cancer Charter Data Briefing include:
● 313,959 women worldwide were diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2020 – by 2040 this number is expected to rise to 445,721, an overall increase of 42%.
● In 2020, 207,252 women worldwide died from the disease and that number will increase by 51% by 2040, with a projected number of 312,617 deaths.
● While the greatest increase of women diagnosed in terms of numbers will be in Asia, the greatest percentage increase will be in Africa, where the number of women diagnosed is expected to rise by 86.8% over the next two decades.
● The same holds true for ovarian cancer deaths. By 2040, Asia will see the greatest number of deaths overall, but the greatest percentage increase in mortality will be seen in Africa, where it is expected to jump by 92.3% - almost two-fold the number from 2020.
Millions of missing women
Ovarian cancer’s high mortality rate means hundreds of thousands of women die each year from the disease. Current data projections indicate a staggering total loss of 4,145,040 women to the disease by the time we reach 2040. Millions of partners, colleagues, friends, mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, and grandmothers will be absent from their families’ tables if the status quo is maintained.
“Additionally concerning is that 70% of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year already face overwhelming barriers to access because of geography, economics, or social circumstance. Treatments are unaffordable; universal healthcare is anything but universal worldwide, and many healthcare systems are just not equipped or resourced to effectively deal with this disease,” added MacKay. “Collectively, we must close the care gap, so no woman is left behind. Everyone living with a diagnosis of ovarian cancer deserves the best chance of survival and the best quality of life possible – wherever she may live.”
While recent advancements in ovarian cancer treatments have been promising, the Coalition’s Global Ovarian Cancer Charter Data Briefing underscores the fact that inequities in access render those developments meaningless for many – particularly for women in poor and developing nations. Increased disease awareness and significant improvements and investment in research, prevention, diagnosis, care, and treatments worldwide are vital so that care gaps can be closed, and all can benefit from progress and have the best possible care.