Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer in women in the UK, after breast, lung bowel, and womb cancers. Most cases of ovarian cancer are diagnosed in women who have gone through menopause. This means that most cases are in women over the age of 50 but younger women do also get the disease.
“New data shows that 29% of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed at A&E which is higher than the average for other cancers, and much higher than for other women’s cancers including breast, cervical and womb cancer. That’s another sign that there’s still a huge awareness raising job to be done to make sure women know about the signs and symptomsof ovarian cancer.”
To summarise, evidence shows that any of the following three symptoms, if they are new,
occur on most days and won’t go away, can suggest ovarian cancer.
- Persistent pelvic and abdominal pain
- Increased abdominal size / persistent bloating (not bloating that comes and goes)
- Difficulty eating and feeling full quickly
Women who regularly experience any of these symptoms should make an appointment to see their GP and go back again if the symptoms continue or worsen.
Facts and figures about ovarian cancer
- It is the fourth most common cause of cancer death in UK women. Each year in the UK 6,600 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and 4,400 women die from the disease. Ovarian cancer causes more deaths than all the other gynaecological cancers put together.
- While treatment for ovarian cancer has advanced over the last 20 years, long term survival rates have changed very little. Over the same period, survival rates for breast and cervical cancers have greatly improved.
- Early diagnosis can help save lives – survival rates for ovarian cancer are higher theearlier the cancer is diagnosed.
- Women with early stage ovarian cancer have five year survival rates in excess of 70% whereas women diagnosed with ovarian cancer at a later stage have much lower survival rates of between 5% and 33%.
- The UK has one of the worst survival rates for ovarian cancer in Europe.
- Once known as ‘the silent killer’ because symptoms are vague and can easily be confused with more common and less serious health problems, there is now agreement on the signs and symptoms that could suggest an ovarian cancer
diagnosis and Key Messages for Women on the signs and symptoms of the disease have been published by the Department of Health.
- There is currently no NHS screening programme for ovarian cancer (cervical screening tests do not detect ovarian cancer) but a large-scale screening trial to prove that lives can be saved through ovarian cancer screening is underway and initial results are encouraging.
- The UK has poor survival rates, and is positioned seventh in the list of European Countries for high ovarian cancer incidence and mortality rates.
March is Ovarian cancer awareness month. You can hold a tea party to raise funds for ovarian cancer charity ‘The Eve Appeal’. Details of the event and your chance to win tea with Lorraine Kelly can be found at www.eveappeal.org.uk