Objective: To describe the epidemiology of ovarian cancer mortality in the United States from 1979 to 1995.
Methods: The mortality data of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were accessed using the Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research (WONDER). We selected all deaths among women with International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9) code 183.0 (ovarian malignant neoplasm). Mortality data for the years 1979-1995 were age-adjusted to the United States 1990 female population, and mortality rates for each year were calculated for females of all ages by age category, by race, and by geographic location. Trends were obtained for the periods 1979-1983 to 1991-1995, and the impact on the number of ovarian cancer deaths was calculated.
Results: Age-adjusted ovarian cancer mortality rates have changed little in the United States from 1979 to 1995, but rates are increasing in older women (65 years and older) and decreasing in younger women. Age-adjusted mortality rates are higher among whites than in blacks. Ovarian cancer mortality rates are higher in northern compared with southern states.
Conclusion: The trends in ovarian cancer mortality among younger and older women parallel published changes in incidence and may be due to changes in risk factors, such as the use of oral contraceptives. The reasons for the higher ovarian cancer death rates in northern states are unknown. Better understanding of how modifiable risk factors and treatment methods affect ovarian cancer mortality trends is needed.