A leading cancer charity has called on the government to raise public awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer.
Target Ovarian Cancer says better awareness would prevent needless deaths.
The charity pointed the success of recent national awareness-raising initiatives among GPs compared to the lack of similar public campaigns.
Annwen Jones, chief executive of Target Ovarian Cancer who commissioned the Pathfinder Study said: “The evidence is piling up. Women are being let down by the failure to act in the UK. We need a national awareness campaign now to end needless deaths from this disease. Of the 4,400 who die from ovarian cancer each year, 500 of those women would still be alive each year if we only match European survival rates.
“We are determined to see women at risk from ovarian cancer get a better chance of survival, we need to see continued improvements in GP awareness and kick-start women’s symptoms knowledge.
“Ovarian cancer does have early symptoms, and if caught early survival rates rise to 70%. Presently only 36% of women will survive five years after a diagnosis of ovarian cancer. This is because many are not diagnosed until the cancer is advanced.
“We and other charities are doing our bit, but what’s needed urgently is a major national push of the kind that the Department of Health acknowledges has delivered impressive results in awareness of other cancers.
“We want a regional pilot immediately to replicate the success of the Department of Health’s bowel cancer campaign, which used a combination of TV, radio, leaflets and events to get the message across.
“The Department of Health’s official leading on early diagnosis in cancer said the campaign had 75% recognition among the public and GPs.
“The regional pilot was so successful that the bowel cancer campaign was rolled out nationally in January.
“The public understand the value of this kind of publicity, 96% said this kind of awareness-raising was important work for the Department of Health to do.”