Deaths from ovarian cancer fell worldwide for over a decade and are predicted to continue to decline though to a smaller degree, by 2020, according to new research published in the leading cancer journal Annals of Oncology.
Statistics show that ovarian cancer is one of the most aggressive cancers, with a high death rate. Over 140,000 women die from ovarian cancer each year.
Researchers say the main reason is the use of oral contraceptives and the long-term protection against ovarian cancer that they provide.
Professor Carlo La Vecchia from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Milan, Italy. They say the decline in hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to manage menopausal symptoms and better diagnosis and treatment may also play a role.
Using data on deaths from ovarian cancer from 1970 to the most recent available year from the World Health Organization, the researchers found that in 28 countries of the EU death rates decreased by 10 per cent between 2002 and 2012, from an age standardised death rate per 100,000 women of 5.76 to 5.19.
Although there were no available data on Nigeria, findings show that use of contraceptives is on the rise among women of reproductive age.
In the USA the decline was significant with a 16 per cent drop in death rates from 5.76 per 100,000 in 2002 to 4.85 in 2012. In Canada ovarian cancer death rates decreased over the same period by nearly 8 per cent from 5.42 to 4.95.
In Japan, which has had a lower rate of ovarian cancer deaths than many other countries, the death rate fell by 2 per cent from 3.3 to 3.28 per 100,000. Large decreases occurred in Australian and New Zealand between 2002 and 2011. In Australia the death rate declined by nearly 12 per cent from 4.84 to 4.27, and in New Zealand they dropped by 12 per cent from 5.61 to 4.93 per 100,000 women.
However, the pattern of decreases was inconsistent in some areas of the world.
The findings of Professor La Vecchia and his colleagues are important as they show how past use of hormone treatments has an impact on the mortality from ovarian cancer at the population level.