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Ovarian Cancer Research Highlights

Ovarian cancer causes more deaths in women living in the United States than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. The American Cancer Society’s (ACS) research programs help find answers to critical questions:

How can ovarian cancer be diagnosed early?
How can the risk of developing ovarian cancer be lowered?
Are there more effective treatments?
What could help survivors have a better quality of life?

We continue to fund research to help save more lives in the future.  

Current Status - In Brief

Ovarian Cancer Still Causes the Most Deaths from Gynecological Cancer 

About 90% of cases are epithelial ovarian cancer, and most of those cases are high-grade serous tumors, which have the fewest established risk factors and the worst prognosis. 

Risk & Prevention Studies

Thanks to CPS Participants

We’ve Learned More About the Risk of Developing Ovarian Cancer

Alpa Patel, PhD, Lauren Teras, PhD,  and other American Cancer Society (ACS) epidemiologists have used data collected from participants in our Cancer Prevention Study II (CPS-II) for several published research projects. 

  • Those who sit for 6 hours or more a day during leisure time (not at work) have a higher risk of ovarian cancer, and cancer in general, compared with those who sit fewer than 3 hours a day. 

  • After menopause, the risk for ovarian cancer increases 25% for every 5 years of estrogen-only hormone replacement therapy (without progestin). When estrogen-only hormone replacement therapy is used for 20 years or more, the risk for ovarian cancer is nearly 3 times higher.

  • Those who have a rotating shift-work schedule have a higher risk of dying from ovarian cancer than those who don’t. 

  • Moderate to vigorous exercise, specifically walking, does not seem to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.

The ACS’s CPS-II Nutrition Cohort is part of the Collaborative Group on Epidemiological Studies of Ovarian Cancer. This group helped establish the increased risk for ovarian cancer in women with excess body weight and the decreased risk of ovarian cancer for women who use oral contraceptives.”

Alpa Patel, PhD

Senior Vice President Population Science

American Cancer Society

asian woman wearing turquoise patterned shirt

We're Testing Participant Blood Samples to Learn More About Biomarkers & Genetic Risks

Thanks to CPS-II and CPS-3 participants, we have blood samples to find biomarkers that will identify early signs of ovarian cancer and to find information about risk factors that are hard to capture through questionnaires, such as how to identify inherited genetic mutations that increase a woman’s risk for ovarian cancer. 

ACS investigators are testing the blood samples in collaboration with Ovarian Cancer Cohort Consortium (OC3) investigators.

Glossary for Nonscientists

Featured Terms:

A measurable molecular, genetic, chemical, or physical characteristic in the blood or other bodily fluids, such as sweat and tears, that is a sign of a normal or abnormal process or of a health condition or disease. A biomarker may be used to see how well the body responds to a treatment for a disease. 

Susceptibility Biomarkers

A biomarker that signals the potential, or risk, a person has to develop a disease before they have symptoms. For instance, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is a susceptibility biomarker for heart disease.

Notable Ovarian Cancer Statistics About . . .


Racial Disparities


It's rare for women younger than 40 to have ovarian cancer.


Half of all ovarian cancers are found in women age 63 or older.

5 of 5

the rank Black people have on a 1 to 5 scale (with 5 being the lowest) on the incidence rate of ovarian cancer based on race and ethnicity

3 of 5

the rank Black people have on a 1 to 5 scale (with 5 being the lowest) for the death rate of ovarian cancer based on race and ethnicity

1 of 1

the rank American Indian and Alaska Native people have on a 1 to 5 scale (with 5 being the lowest) for incidence rate AND death rate for ovarian cancer based on race and ethnicity

ACS Ovarian Cancer Research News


ovarian cancer research grants


funding for ovarian cancer research

We Fund Cancer Researchers Across the US

The ACS funds scientists who conduct research about ovarian cancer at medical schools, universities, research institutes, and hospitals throughout the United States. We use a rigorous and independent peer review process to select the most innovative research projects proposals to fund. 

The grant statistics to the left are as of August 1, 2023.

See more funding stats.