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Please help us to raise awareness of ovarian cancer and its symptoms, and use this information to help you report on ovarian cancer accurately and clearly.

Ovarian cancer in numbers

  • Over 7,000 women are diagnosed each year in the UK 1
  • Over 4,000 women lose their lives each year – that’s 11 women every day 2
  • A woman in the UK has a one in 50 chance of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in her lifetime
  • When a woman is diagnosed at the earliest stage, her chance of surviving ovarian cancer for five years or more doubles 3 
  • Nearly half of GPs (44 per cent) mistakenly believe symptoms only present in the later stages of ovarian cancer 4
  • Just one in five UK women (20 per cent) can name bloating as one of the main symptoms of ovarian cancer 5
  • Almost half of women (45 per cent) must wait three months or more from first visiting their GP to getting a correct diagnosis 6 
  • Over a quarter of women with ovarian cancer (27 per cent) are diagnosed through an emergency presentation such as Accident and Emergency 7
  • One in five women (22 per cent) mistakenly think a smear test would detect ovarian cancer 8


Our symptoms leafletSymptoms of ovarian cancer are frequent (they usually happen more than 12 times a month) and persistent. 

They include:

  • Persistent bloating - not bloating that comes and goes
  • Feeling full quickly and/or loss of appetite
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain (that's your tummy and below)
  • Urinary symptoms (needing to wee more urgently or more often than usual)

 Occasionally there can be other symptoms:

  • Changes in bowel habit (eg diarrhoea or constipation)
  • Extreme fatigue (feeling very tired)
  • Unexplained weight loss

Any bleeding after the menopause should always be investigated by a GP.

Symptoms will be:

  • Frequent – they usually happen more than 12 times a month
  • Persistent – they don’t go away
  • New – they are not normal for you 

We use National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE)-compliant symptom guidance, and we ask all journalists to do the same. It is important that we ensure the public has an accurate and consistent list of the symptoms of ovarian cancer.

Please don’t refer to ovarian cancer as ‘the silent killer’. To increase early diagnosis, we need to challenge the myth that the symptoms of ovarian cancer can’t be spotted until the later stages. Women with early stage disease do have symptoms.


With no screening test for ovarian cancer, a woman’s route to diagnosis is key to her survival. However, each year over a quarter of ovarian cancer patients in the UK are diagnosed following an emergency presentation such as Accident and Emergency. 9

Ovarian cancer risks

The two greatest risks for ovarian cancer are age and family history.

Most cases occur in women who have already gone through the menopause (around 50 years old). However, over a thousand young women each year do develop ovarian cancer – which is why all women should know the symptoms.

Over a thousand women each year develop ovarian cancer because they have inherited faulty genes (from either their mother’s or father’s side of the family), for example the BRCA1 and 2 genes.

Get in touch

If you have any further questions, please email or call us on 020 7923 5476