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Posted by Target Ovarian Cancer on Wednesday 25 February 2015

There is still widespread misunderstanding and a lack of awareness surrounding ovarian cancer which is risking women’s lives, according to new research released today by Target Ovarian Cancer. 

Serious underestimation

According to a YouGov poll of 2,207 UK adults, over one in ten (13 per cent) estimated that fewer than 100 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer a month in the UK. Over a quarter of people (26 per cent) estimated that fewer than 100 women would die in a month from ovarian cancer. In reality, over 580 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer and 350 women will die from the disease during Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, which starts on 1 March.

Target Ovarian Cancer is warning that this serious underestimation of the scale of ovarian cancer is risking women’s lives. By not understanding the seriousness of the disease, women are grossly underestimating the need to know, and act on, the symptoms. Over three quarters of women surveyed (78 per cent) were not confident in spotting the symptoms of ovarian cancer.

Worryingly, the research also highlighted confusion over gynaecological cancers, with over a quarter (26 per cent) of women incorrectly believing that the cervical screening test will detect for ovarian cancer.

Symptoms awareness and early diagnosis

Annwen Jones, Chief Executive of Target Ovarian Cancer, said: “Late diagnosis is an enormous issue for ovarian cancer, with 15 per cent of women dying within two months of diagnosis. So it’s very concerning to see that there is still such widespread misunderstanding about the seriousness of ovarian cancer. More women need to know that ovarian cancer exists and to take their symptoms seriously – every year 7,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and 4,300 lose their lives. 

“This is why we are calling, as a matter of urgency, for a national symptoms awareness programme for women with ovarian cancer. A government led campaign, with advertising, has the potential to save hundreds of lives. Early diagnosis is absolutely vital for improving a woman’s chance of survival of ovarian cancer, and we need all women and GPs to know and act on the symptoms.”

The symptoms of ovarian cancer are:

  • persistent bloating;
  • difficulty eating or feeling full;
  • pelvic or abdominal pain;
  • needing to wee more urgently or more often.

Symptoms will be frequent (usually happening more than 12 times a month), persistent and new.

Sue Rizzello, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in July 2012, said: “As a working 47 year old I was used to feeling exhausted, and so ignored all my symptoms until they became un-ignorable. Once I realised something was wrong, I had to persist with my GP until I was diagnosed. It’s so important for women to be aware of the symptoms of ovarian cancer, and to recognise when something is wrong with their own body.”

Listen to Target Ovarian Cancer's Director of Communications talk about the research:


Find out more

For further information and interview requests please contact the press office at Target Ovarian Cancer on 020 7923 5476 or pr@targetovariancancer.org.uk