Ovarian cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer death amongst UK women.
It claims over 4,400 lives a year, yet a tenth of these could have been saved with early diagnosis.
Awareness of the signs and symptoms is worryingly low amongst both women and GPs, warn ovarian cancer charities.
England has the lowest survival rate for ovarian cancer in Europe; if UK survival rates matched the best in Europe, 500 women’s lives would be saved every year, say charities joining forces to promote March’s Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.
Most of the 6,500 new cases of ovarian cancer - 125 women each week - are diagnosed once the cancer has already spread, which makes treatment more challenging and takes five year survival rates below 10%.
Diagnosed in the earliest stage, women have a very good chance of surviving, with five year survival rates of above 70%.
Why early detection isn’t happening:
Research has shown that just 4% of women in the UK think they could confidently recognise a symptom of ovarian cancer
GPs sometimes do not recognise the potential importance of the symptoms women report
Symptoms of ovarian cancer
Pelvic or abdominal pain
Increased abdominal size/persistent bloating (not bloating that comes and goes)
Feeling full early and/or lack of appetite
Needing to urinate more urgently or more often than usual
Changes in bowel habit or extreme fatigue
If you regularly experience any of these symptoms and they are not normal for you, see your GP.
GPs are now instructed to carry out a blood test in women, especially those over 50, if they experience symptoms on a persistent or frequent basis.
For more information go to www.targetovarian.org.uk/ovariancancer