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.

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About Julia Manning

Julia Manning is a social pioneer, writer, campaigner and commentator. Formerly a clinical optometrist specialising in diabetes and visual impairment, she is the founder and Director of 2020health, an independent, social enterprise Think Tank whose aim is to Make Health Personal and Social. 2020health has through research, events and campaigning influenced opinion and action in fields as diverse as bioethics, alcohol, emerging technologies, fraud, education, consumer technology and vaccination. In 2014, 2020health were founding partners of the Health Tech and You Awards with Axa PPP and the Design Museum. Since 2016, 2020health has increasingly focused on digital health and public health in the community. Julia is a Fellow of the RSA and now also a part-time PhD student at the UCL Interaction Centre, studying the use of digital technology for stress management in the workplace. 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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