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 Manning is a social entrepreneur, writer, campaigner and commentator. She is based in London and is the founder and Chief Executive of 2020health, an independent, social enterprise Think Tank whose aim is to Make Health Personal. Through networking, technology, research, relationships and campaigning 2020health has influenced opinion and action in fields as diverse as bioethics, alcohol, emerging technologies, fraud, education, consumer technology and vaccination. Julia studied visual science at City University and became a member of the College of Optometrists in 1991. Her career has included being a visiting lecturer at City University, a visiting clinician at the Royal Free Hospital, working with south London Primary Care Trusts and as a Director of the UK Institute of Optometry. She specialised in diabetes (University of Warwick Certificate in Diabetic Care) and founded Julia Manning Eyecare in 2004, a home and prison visiting practice for people with mental and physical disabilities using the latest digital technology, which she sold to Healthcall (now part of Specsavers) in 2009. Experiences of working in the NHS, contributing to policy development, raising two children in the inner-city and standing in the General Election in Bristol in 2005 led to Julia forming 2020health at the end of 2006. Julia is a regular guest on TV and radio shows such as BBC News, ITV’s Daybreak/ GMB, Channel 5 News, BBC 1′s The Big Questions, BBC Radio, LBC and has taken part in debates and contributed to BBC’s Newsnight, Panorama, You and Yours and ITV’s The Week. She is mum to a rugby-mad son, a daughter passionate about Shakespeare, and wife of a comprehensive school assistant head-teacher. She loves gardening, ballet, Zimbabwe, her Westies Skye and Angus, is an honorary research associate at UCL and a Fellow of the RSA.
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