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RCOG statement on Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

News 28 February 2013

March is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. To mark the month the national cancer charity Target Ovarian Cancer has released statistics from their Pathfinder Study of the general population about the cancer which showed that 47% of women incorrectly believe that cervical screening will detect ovarian cancer.

The survey also found that many women are unaware of the main risk factors of ovarian cancer – age and family history. Results show 60% of women in the general population are unaware that the risk of ovarian cancer increases with age and just 13% mentioned having a relative with ovarian cancer as a risk factor.

Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynaecological cancer in the UK, and its incidence is rising. It is the fifth most common cancer in women.

Dr Tony Falconer, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said:

“This survey indicates that approximately half of the general population of women incorrectly believe that cervical screening will detect ovarian cancer.

“Hence there is a need for greater awareness of the disease and also for initial investigations in primary and secondary care that enable earlier referral and optimum treatment.

“Currently there is no simple test to diagnose ovarian cancer. However it is crucial that women are aware of the key symptoms of ovarian cancer, which include; increased abdominal size and/or persistent bloating, difficulty eating and feeling full quickly, pelvic or abdominal pain and changes in bladder habits or frequency.

“We urge any woman experiencing any of these symptoms to visit their GP. Early diagnosis really can save lives.”


For further information, please contact the RCOG Media and PR team on +44 20 7772 6300 or email

For further information about ovarian cancer or Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, please visit the Target Ovarian Cancer website and read the NICE guideline on recognition and initial management of ovarian cancer.