Four out of five women in Ireland are unsure if they recognize a symptom of ovarian cancer

Four out of five women in Ireland are unsure they have a symptom of ovarian cancer, despite Ireland having one of the highest mortality rates from the disease in Europe.

A new study commissioned by Ireland’s Gynecologic Oncology Network (INGO) showed that 94 per cent of respondents could not identify changes or loss of appetite as a symptom.

97pc also did not recognize a change in toilet habits with an increased need to urinate as a possible sign.

More than one in two did not realize that changing bowel habits could be a sign of the disease, and only half would be warned about pain and bloating.

The Behavior and Attitudes study, commissioned by the network and involving specialists, patients and advocates, comes in the run-up to World Ovarian Cancer Day next Sunday.

Gynecologist Donal Brennan, from Mater Hospital and St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin, said it was important for women to understand the symptoms of the disease as there is no screening test for it.

“Cervical swabs are not used to detect ovarian cancer,” he added.

“If symptoms persist for three weeks or more, you need to contact your GP. It is also worth visiting as there is a lot of information and very helpful resources there.”

The new campaign aims to simplify information and focus on BEAT symptoms.

• Bloating that is persistent and does not come and go

• Eat less and feel full faster

• Abdominal and pelvic pain that you feel most days

• Toilet changes when urinating or having a bowel movement

Each year in Ireland around 400 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and nearly 300 die from it.

It is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in women in Ireland, after lung, breast and colon cancer.

Early diagnosis can significantly improve survival, and 83 percent of patients diagnosed with stage one ovarian cancer are still alive five years later, compared with 16 percent with stage four disease diagnosed.

Prof Brennan said: “There are no exact tests and that’s why we want people to be aware of BEAT symptoms.”

dr Sharon O’Toole, Senior Research Fellow at Trinity College Dublin and World Ovarian Cancer Day Coordinator, said: “The symptoms of ovarian cancer can often be confused with irritable bowel syndrome and we need to get the BEAT message across to women who know they are should contact their GP if they have any of the symptoms for three weeks or more.”

Ovarian cancer survivor Melissa Harris said: “I have never felt a greater passion for anything than the importance of raising awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer.

“I work as a hairdresser and so many of my clients have asked if it was found when I had a swab.

“So many women have symptoms, get a swab and are relieved when it’s okay and push it aside – it’s scary. And many women think that ovarian cancer only affects older women. You need to listen to your body and make sure you are aware of the BEAT symptoms.” Four out of five women in Ireland are unsure if they recognize a symptom of ovarian cancer

Fry Electronics Team

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