Generally speaking, the survivability of and prognosis for each of the gynecologic cancers depends on the stage at which the cancer is diagnosed and treatment (usually surgery, radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy) begins—the earlier the diagnosis, the better your chances, so it’s important to see your gynecologist at the first sign of trouble, and to get regular pelvic exams.
Indeed, the mortality rates for cervical cancer have declined markedly as Pap smears have become more prevalent, as these Pap smears allow gynecologists to detect abnormal cervical cells and cancer early on, before the cancer spreads. While there are more than 12,000 diagnoses of invasive cervical cancer each year, only about 4,200 women were expected to die from this cancer in 2012. That’s still too many, but since the 1950s, the death rate has declined by more than 70 percent, according to the American Cancer Society.
Similarly, vulvar cancer that is detected early is very curable. About 93 percent of women diagnosed with Stage I vulvar cancer (specifically, squamous cell carcinoma, though there are other types of vulvar cancer) live at least five years, and 87 percent live at least 10 years, according to the National Cancer Institute. However, the farther along the cancer’s progression is, the less optimistic the prognosis is. In fact, only 29 percent of women with Stage IV vulvar cancer live at least five years, and only 16 percent live at least 10 years.
The survivability of Stage I vaginal cancer is similarly excellent—84 percent of women will live at least five years, according to the National Cancer Institute. Stage II vaginal cancer’s survival rate is good as well, as 75 percent of women can expect to live five years. By Stages III and IV, however, the prognosis is less favorable: the five-year survivability rate is 57 percent.
The overall five-year survival rate for endometrial cancer is 69 percent; here again, the earlier the diagnosis, the better the odds. For uterine cancers found in an early stage, the five-year survivability rate is 91 percent.
Finally, for ovarian cancer (specifically, invasive epithelial ovarian cancer), the data tell a similar story. At Stage I, the five-year survival rate is 89 percent; at Stage II, 66 percent; at Stage III, 34 percent; and at Stage IV, 18 percent.