Increasing Early Diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer


Charities and researchers have highlighted the importance of diagnosing ovarian cancer early to improve survival from the disease.

March is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, and this year it is being used to highlight how most women with the disease are diagnosed once it has already spread. One in five women are diagnosed when it is too late for any treatment.

Ovary and fallopian tubes

Over 7,000 women in the UK are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year. Ovarian cancer is cancer that stems from the cells in and around the ovary and fallopian tubes. The disease tends to spread to the abdomen, the bowels and the liver.

It is one of the most common cancers in women and mainly affects women who have been through the menopause, although it can occur in younger women.

Bloating and pain

The symptoms of ovarian cancer are constantly feeling bloating, feeling full quickly, loss of appetite, pelvic or abdominal pain, and needing to urinate more often than usual.

Diagnosis is often a problem with ovarian cancer because the symptoms are similar to other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome. People who have symptoms for more than a few weeks are advised to see their doctor. In particular those people who have a family history of ovarian cancer.


The main treatments for ovarian cancer is surgery to remove the tumour – this often means removing both ovaries, the womb and the fallopian tubes – and chemotherapy.

Cancer Research UK has found when ovarian cancer is diagnosed at its earliest stage, nine in 10 (90%) women will survive for five or more years. However, when it is diagnosed at the latest stage, only five in 100 (5%) women will survive for five or more years.

Symptom awareness

Ovarian Cancer Awareness month, every March, looks to raise the profile of the disease, and in particular spread the word about the symptoms so that women know what to look out for, and GPs are aware of when they should refer women with symptoms for tests for ovarian cancer.

Research by the charity Target Ovarian Cancer found that although GPs are confident that they know the symptoms of ovarian cancer, it can be difficult for them to decide on the best next steps for patients. They also found that there is a lot of variation around the country in access to diagnostic test for the disease.


This article was written by a third party source and does not reflect the views or opinions of Ramsay Health Care unless explicitly stated.

Additional comments on the page from individual Consultants do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of other Consultants or Ramsay Health Care.

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