Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month: Why Are We Still Not Aware?

March is known as ‘ovarian cancer awareness month’ but despite the condition being all too common and well publicised, many women and GPs are still unaware of some of the early symptoms, resulting in the signs being ignored or misdiagnosed. This delay can allow the cancer to spread, meaning treatment may need to be more invasive and, tragically, even come too late to be successful.

Charity and campaign group Target Ovarian Cancer surveyed over 1,000 women and found that 80% did not think that bloating was a symptom, and almost no-one suspected that feelings of fullness or urgent urination were possible indicators.

Ovarian cancer symptoms can be misinterpreted as the menopause, appendicitis, irritable bowel syndrome, diet and stress.

As such there are often delays that can be fatal. Statistics show that, when caught early, 90% of women will survive for at least five years but when diagnosed at a late stage only 10% survive.


Each year around 7,500 cases of ovarian cancer are diagnosed, and tragically 4,000 women — around 11 every day — die. Far too few women are diagnosed at an early stage, and it’s estimated that around two-thirds of diagnoses are after the cancer has started to spread.

  • In females in the UK, ovarian cancer is the 6th most common cancer, with around 7,500 new cases every year (2016-2018).
  • Ovarian cancer accounts for 4% of all new cancer cases in females in the UK (2016-2018).
  • Incidence rates for ovarian cancer in the UK are highest in females aged 75 to 79 (2016-2018).
  • Each year more than a quarter (28%) of all new ovarian cancer cases in the UK are diagnosed in females aged 75 and over (2016-2018).

(Source: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/ovarian-cancer#heading-Zero)

Dr Victoria Barber, a GP who campaigns with Target Ovarian Cancer, stressed that women should see their doctor as early as they can if symptoms persist and, more importantly, “it’s vital that GPs are knowledgeable on ovarian cancer and know how to advise patients.”

Symptoms to Look Out For

  • 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’re not normal for you

(Source: https://targetovariancancer.org.uk/about-ovarian-cancer/symptoms)

Raising Awareness

Target Ovarian Cancer has a GP education programme to raise awareness with medical professionals. They are also using Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month this month to campaign for more government action, with the charity’s chief executive calling for a “sustained and large-scale government-backed symptoms campaign” to advise women and GPs of the symptoms.

The message from the charity is loud and clear; do not ignore persistent symptoms like bloating, fullness, abdominal pain, and/or the urgent need to urinate. If you have already visited your doctor and been diagnosed with something else, don’t be afraid to ask again. The best outcome of a misdiagnosis is that more severe treatment is needed, but for too many, it can mean that treatment will come too late.

Contact our ovarian cancer misdiagnosis solicitors today

Claiming compensation for misdiagnosis is not only about seeking justice, but you may also be able to gain access to treatment or medications that are not available on the NHS. Depending on your case, it is possible to request advanced payments to help pay for the care you need.

For more information on Devonshires Claims ‘No Win No Feeovarian cancer misdiagnosis claims service or to start your free case evaluation, contact us today on 0333 900 8787, email admin@devonshiresclaims.co.uk or complete our online form.

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