Serious underestimation of a disease that is risking women’s lives

Guest Blog by Alexandra Holden, Director of Communications,
Target Ovarian Cancer

Target Ovarian CancerPortraitsResearch published this month shows widespread misunderstanding and a lack of awareness surrounding ovarian cancer. Over one in ten UK adults surveyed estimated that fewer than 100 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer per month in the UK; in reality, the number is almost 600. Over a quarter of people estimated that fewer than 100 women would die from ovarian cancer in a month; in reality, around 350 women will die from ovarian cancer during Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, this March.

As the UK’s leading ovarian cancer charity, Target Ovarian Cancer has published these figures – not to suggest that the UK population should be able to accurately assess the number of people affected from a range of diseases, but to highlight a serious underestimation of a disease that is risking women’s lives.

Copy TOC logoThree quarters of the women surveyed were not confident in spotting the symptoms of ovarian cancer. If women don’t know the symptoms, they won’t visit their GP with concerns. If GPs don’t know the symptoms, they won’t refer the women for the correct diagnostic tests.

Late or delayed diagnosis is an enormous issue for ovarian cancer, with 15 per cent of women dying within two months of diagnosis. Women need to know that ovarian cancer exists, and to take their symptoms seriously.

Target Ovarian Cancer works alongside health professionals, women with ovarian cancer and volunteers every Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month to raise awareness of the symptoms with women and GPs. We’re also urging the government to lead a national symptoms awareness programme for women with ovarian cancer, which would have the potential to save hundreds of lives.

Early diagnosis is absolutely vital for improving a woman’s chance of surviving ovarian cancer. We need all women and GPs to know and act on the symptoms.

The symptoms of ovarian cancer are:symptoms

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

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

About Julia Manning

Julia is a social pioneer, writer and campaigner. She studied visual science at City University and became a member of the College of Optometrists in 1991, later specialising in visual impairment and diabetes. During her career in optometry, she lectured at City University, was a visiting clinician at the Royal Free Hospital and worked with Primary Care Trusts. She ran a domiciliary practice across south London and was a Director of the UK Institute of Optometry. Julia formed 20/20Health in 2006. Becoming an expert in digital health solutions, she led on the NHS–USA Veterans’ Health Digital Health Exchange Programme and was co-founder of the Health Tech and You Awards with Axa PPP and the Design Museum. Her research interests are now in harnessing digital to improve personal health, and she is a PhD candidate in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) at UCL. She is also dedicated to creating a sustainable Whole School Wellbeing Community model for schools that builds relationships, discovers assets and develops life skills. She is a member of the Royal Society of Medicine’s Digital Health Council. Julia has shared 2020health's research widely in the media (BBC News, ITV, Channel 5 News, BBC 1′s The Big Questions & Victoria Derbyshire, BBC Radio 4 Today, PM and Woman's Hour, LBC) and has taken part in debates and contributed to BBC’s Newsnight, Panorama, You and Yours and ITV’s The Week.
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