Oral contraceptives and menopausal hormone-use may be improving mortality rates of ovarian cancer in the Western world, according to an article published in the Annals of Oncology.1

To account for declining mortality rates, researchers recorded global trends using data from the World Health Organization. Trends from 2002 to 2012 were evaluated, and predictions were made for 2020.

All-age mortality rates decreased significantly among Western countries: in the European Union (EU), deaths per 100,000 people dropped from 5.9 to 5.2 (10%) from 2002 to 2012; a decline was observed in each EU country except for Bulgaria. Mortality rates dropped from 5.76 to 4.85 (15.8%) in the United States.

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The Republic of Korea had the lowest mortality rates overall (2.26) in 2012, which represented a 6.1% increase since 2002. Lithuania had the highest rate in 2012, at 7.1.

The authors project a further 15% decline in the United States, and a further 10% decline in the EU, by 2020.

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Dropping rates in the EU and United States were attributed to oral contraceptives and menopausal hormone-use. The authors could not, however, explain the low mortality rates in Korea. Increased rates in Korea and dropping rates in the West suggest that rates will level globally by 2020.


  1. Malvezzi M, Carioli G, Rodriguez T, Negri E, La Vecchia C. Global trends and predictions in ovarian cancer mortality. Ann Oncol. 2016 Sep 5. doi: 10.1093/annonc/mdw306 [Epub ahead of print]