Charity calls for ovarian cancer awareness campaign

ONLY one per cent of women in the East of England are very confident in noticing symptoms of ovarian cancer, and a leading charity says symptom awareness could prevent needless deaths.

The UK has among the worst one-year survival rate for the disease in developed countries, a fact strongly linked to late diagnosis.

Nationally, just three per cent of women are very confident in noticing symptoms.

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Chief executive of Target Ovarian Cancer, Annwen Jones, said: “Women are dying needlessly every day because they didn’t know the symptoms of this disease before they were diagnosed with advanced cancer. Had it been caught at an earlier stage their chances of surviving five years would have almost doubled.”

The Target Ovarian Cancer Pathfinder Study 2012 did find the number of women who recognised bloating as a major sympton has nearly doubled from nine per cent to 17 per cent, but in the East of England this was 13 per cent.

The charity said this still compares poorly to other cancers with 76 per cent of women knowing a breast lump is a sign of breast cancer.

Ms Jones said: “The evidence is piling up. Women are being let down by the failure to act in the UK. We need a national awareness campaign now to end needless deaths from this disease.

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“Of the 4,400 who die from ovarian cancer each year, 500 of those women would still be alive each year if we only match European survival rates. “We are determined to see women at risk from ovarian cancer get a better chance of survival, we need to see continued improvements in GP awareness and kick-start women’s symptoms knowledge.”

She said ovarian cancer surivial rates rise to 70 per cent if it’s caught early, whereas presently only 36 per cent of women will survive five years, because many are not diagnosed until the cancer is advanced.

She said: “We and other charities are doing our bit, but what’s needed urgently is a major national push of the kind that the Department of Health acknowledges has delivered impressive results in awareness of other cancers.

“We want a regional pilot immediately to replicate the success of the Department of Health’s bowel cancer campaign, which used a combination of TV, radio, leaflets and events to get the message across.”


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The symptoms of ovarian cancer happen frequently –more than 12 times a month, are persistent and new (not normal for you and may have started in the last year).

The key symptoms are persistent pelvic or abominal pain, increased abdominal size/peristent bloating - not bloating that comes and goes, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, and urinary symptoms such as needing to wee more urgently or often than usual.

Occassionally there can be other symptoms such as changes in bowel habit, extreme fatigue and unexplained weight loss.

Target Ovarian Cancer can be found online at