Awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer is vital if more women are to be diagnosed earlier yet Target Ovarian Cancer research found just one in five women able to name bloating as a symptom of ovarian cancer. We need national awareness campaigns that include the symptoms of ovarian cancer in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales so that every woman knows the symptoms to look out for.
Our campaign in England
Be Clear on Cancer is a government funded programme, started in 2011, which aims to improve early diagnosis by raising awareness of the symptoms of cancer and encouraging people with symptoms to see their GP early. Target Ovarian Cancer has long campaigned for an ovarian cancer Be Clear on Cancer campaign.
So far we have seen a local and regional ovarian cancer pilot. In the interim report for the regional ovarian cancer pilot Public Health England found that the campaign was successful in raising awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer but initial findings suggested it had yet to show an increase in the number of women diagnosed as a result of the campaign.
Subsequently, ovarian cancer has been included in a new type of campaign being piloted by Public Health England which groups symptoms together by the part of the body in which they occur. The abdominal symptoms campaign ran from February to March 2017 in the Midlands. It was aimed at both men and women and included bloating as one of the main symptoms. We are still awaiting the full evaluation, but initial results show that the campaign succeeded in seeing more people receive an urgent GP referral for suspected cancer.
... in Northern Ireland
Thanks to the campaigning of Una Crudden, supported by Target Ovarian Cancer, the Public Health Agency ran an ovarian cancer awareness initiative in 2014. They have since launched Be Cancer Aware to raise awareness of all cancers, although there has yet to be an ovarian cancer specific campaign.
... in Scotland
The Detect Cancer Early programme aims to raise awareness of symptoms that might be cancer. Detect Cancer Early has yet to feature ovarian cancer within an awareness campaign. However, as part of their work to improve early diagnosis, Scotland produced new clinical guidelines for ovarian cancer in 2013. These enable GPs to refer women for CA125 testing and ultrasound at the same time, rather than having to wait for CA125 results first as is the case in the rest of the UK.
... in Wales
Thanks to the campaigning of Annie Mulholland, the Welsh Government backed a GP awareness initiative in 2016, sending Target Ovarian Cancer GP toolkits to every GP practice in Wales. Since then, the Welsh Assembly Petitions Committee has produced a report calling for a public facing ovarian cancer awareness campaign in Wales.