Six in 10 women ignorant of symptoms of ovarian cancer


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The Independent Online

Most women are not able to name one symptom of ovarian cancer, the most deadly gynaecological cancer in the UK. Almost six out of 10 women, including those at higher risk, were unable to recall any of the 10 symptoms of the disease, according to new research.

The disease is the fourth most common cause of cancer deaths in women and experts fear the lack of awareness may contribute to low survival rates in the UK compared with elsewhere.

Symptoms include persistent bloating, pain in the abdomen, back or pelvis, and fatigue. No screening service is available for the cancer and five-year relative survival rates, at 36 per cent, are among the lowest of the 21 most common cancers.

Target Ovarian Cancer wants a national awareness campaign to alert women to the signs of the disease, which is diagnosed in nearly 7,000 women a year. "It's essential that women are made aware of the symptoms  …  and that they are encouraged to visit their GP should they have any concerns," Annwen Jones, the charity's chief executive said.

"This study provides further evidence in support of the case for a [national] awareness campaign . …  We have the worst record in Europe in terms of short-term survival – a sign that diagnosis is taking place too late.''

w Elsewhere, it was reported that half of men who develop prostate cancer are wrongly being given the all-clear because of outdated diagnosis techniques. Up to a quarter of suspected sufferers are also being put through unnecessary invasive procedures after falsely testing positive for the disease. The study, by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and University College London, reported that the flawed techniques used by most NHS hospitals to diagnose men are putting thousands at risk.

Their research suggests that as many as half the cases of prostate cancer could be missed during standard biopsy procedures. It found that diagnosis is far more accurate if patients undergo an MRI scan first to examine the area, with the findings mapped out by ultrasound.