How to…Target Ovarian Cancer

March is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

Women are more likely to cut out foods than go to their GP if they experience persistent bloating

The symptoms of ovarian cancer
Women in the UK are more likely to consider changing their diet than visiting their GP when confronted with bloating, a major symptom of ovarian cancer.

New research from Target Ovarian Cancer shows that, when faced with the prospect of persistent bloating, women may unknowingly put themselves at risk by opting to do things like eat more probiotic yoghurts or cut out gluten, rather than visiting their GP.

Half (50 per cent) of UK women said they would do something with their diet, whereas one in three (34 per cent) said they would see a doctor if they were concerned about bloating.1 Previous research by Target Ovarian Cancer has shown that just 1 in 5 women can name persistent bloating as a symptom of ovarian cancer – an alarmingly low rate of awareness.2

It's time to TAKE OVAR

Join us to TAKE OVAR and raise awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer in the lead up to Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Two thirds of women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer once the cancer has already spread, making it harder to treat.3 Enough is enough. It’s time to TAKE OVAR. Together we can transform the lives of women with ovarian cancer.

Target Ovarian Cancer’s research also showed that women over 55 – who are most likely to develop ovarian cancer – are least likely to google their symptoms, leaving them at risk of a delayed diagnosis. Just one in three women over 55 (34 per cent) would do this, compared to almost two thirds of 18-24 year olds (64 per cent).4

Raising awareness is the first critical step, ensuring women know the potential significance of continued bloating and seek medical advice. This awareness gap means that women are not visiting their GP promptly, not being sent for the correct ovarian cancer tests quickly, and risk missing out on a crucial early diagnosis.

Annwen Jones, Chief Executive of Target Ovarian Cancer, said: “A probiotic yoghurt should not be preventing a woman from visiting the GP promptly if something is worrying her. Women should not be risking their lives because of the enduring awareness gap around the symptoms of ovarian cancer. If women know ovarian cancer symptoms such as persistent bloating and are able to link them to ovarian cancer early on, lives will be saved.”

Laura and her son Harry

Laura Everley, 38, from Crawley, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2014. She said: “Before I was diagnosed I was experiencing all of the symptoms of ovarian cancer, including bloating. I thought that maybe I might have irritable bowel syndrome because there are similar symptoms. I’d even tried going gluten free, but it had made no difference. The idea of cancer hadn’t even entered my head. You just never dream this is going to happen to you.”

11 women die every day from ovarian cancer, and ovarian cancer faces chronic underfunding compared with other cancers. Together we can transform the lives of women with ovarian cancer. Join our TAKE OVAR campaign to raise awareness, fund research and save lives. Target Ovarian Cancer will hold an inquiry into diagnosing ovarian cancer sooner at the APPG on ovarian cancer in Parliament today.

Find out more

POSTED BY TARGET OVARIAN CANCER ON MONDAY 19 FEBRUARY 2018

References

Reference 1

For the following questions, by “bloated regularly” we mean any unusual swelling/increase in the stomach areas that doesn’t go away. Please imagine you had started to feel bloated regularly… Which, if any, of the following actions would you take? (please select all that apply)

Buy an over the counter medicine (eg antacids etc)

  • Count – 264
  • Percent – 23%

Make an appointment with my GP

  • Count – 392
  • Percent – 34%

Cut out certain foods (eg gluten/dairy); start eating/drinking certain foods (eg probiotic yoghurts, cereals with fibre, peppermint tea); go on a diet.

  • Count – 571
  • Percent – 50%

Start doing/do more exercise

  • Count – 251
  • Percent – 22%

Google the symptoms

  • Count – 487
  • Percent – 43%

Reference 2

Target Ovarian Cancer Pathfinder: Transforming futures for women with ovarian cancer (2016). Available at https://www.targetovariancancer.org.uk/our-campaigns/pathfinder/pathfinder-transforming-futures-women-ovarian-cancer/pathfinder-2016

Reference 3

Office for National Statistics (2016) One–year net cancer survival for Bladder, Breast, Colorectal, Kidney, Lung, Melanoma, Ovary, Prostate and Uterus, by stage at diagnosis. Available at: www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditio…

Reference 4

For the following questions, by “bloated regularly” we mean any unusual swelling/increase in the stomach areas that doesn’t go away. Please imagine you had started to feel bloated regularly… Which, if any, of the following actions would you take? (please select all that apply)

  Age
18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55+
Google the symptoms 64% 52% 41% 42% 34%

 

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