Key facts and figures

Help us raise awareness of ovarian cancer and its symptoms. Use our statistics and information to report on ovarian cancer accurately and clearly.

Ovarian cancer in numbers

  • Over 7,000 women are diagnosed each year in the UK.¹
  • Over 4,000 women lose their lives each year – that's 11 women every day.²
  • There are 41,000 women living with ovarian cancer in the UK.³ 
  • If diagnosed at the earliest stage, 9 in 10 women will survive.⁴ But two thirds of women are diagnosed late, when the cancer is harder to treat.⁵ 
  • Nearly half of GPs (44 per cent) mistakenly believe symptoms only present in the later stages of ovarian cancer.⁶
  • Just one in five UK women (20 per cent) can name bloating as one of the main symptoms of ovarian cancer.⁷
  • Almost half of women (45 per cent) must wait three months or more from first visiting their GP to getting a correct diagnosis.⁸
  • Over a quarter of women with ovarian cancer (27 per cent) are diagnosed through an emergency presentation such as Accident and Emergency.⁹
  • One in five women (22 per cent) mistakenly think a smear test would detect ovarian cancer.¹⁰

Symptoms

Symptoms of ovarian cancer are persistent and frequent (they usually happen more than 12 times a month). 

Symptoms include:

  • Persistent bloating – not bloating that comes and goes
  • Feeling full quickly and/or loss of appetite
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain (that's your tummy and below)
  • Urinary symptoms (needing to wee more urgently or more often than usual)

Occasionally there can be other symptoms:

  • Changes in bowel habit (eg diarrhoea or constipation)
  • Extreme fatigue (feeling very tired)
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Any bleeding after the menopause should always be investigated by a GP

Symptoms will be:

  • Frequent – they usually happen more than 12 times a month
  • Persistent – they don't go away
  • New – they're not normal for you  

We use National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE)-compliant symptom guidance, and we ask all journalists to do the same. It's important that we ensure the public has an accurate and consistent list of the symptoms of ovarian cancer.

Please do not refer to ovarian cancer as ‘the silent killer’. To increase early diagnosis, we need to challenge the myth that the symptoms of ovarian cancer can’t be spotted until the later stages. Women with early stage disease do have symptoms.

Read our symptoms leaflet [PDF] (also available in other languages) to learn more.

Diagnosis

With no screening test for ovarian cancer, a woman's route to diagnosis is key to her survival. However, each year over a quarter of women with ovarian cancer are diagnosed following an emergency presentation such as Accident and Emergency.¹¹

Ovarian cancer risks

The two greatest risks for ovarian cancer are age and family history.

Most cases occur in women who have already gone through the menopause (around 50 years old). However, over 1,000 young women each year do develop ovarian cancer – which is why all women should know the symptoms.

Over a thousand women each year develop ovarian cancer because they have inherited a faulty gene mutation (from either their mother’s or father’s side of the family), for example the BRCA1 and 2 genes.

Get in touch

If you have any further questions, please email us at press.office@targetovariancancer.org.uk or call us on 020 7923 5476.

 


References:

  1. Cancer Research UK [online] [Accessed Aug 2020]
  2. Cancer Research UK [online] [Accessed Aug 2020]
  3. Macmillan Cancer Support and National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service [online] [Accessed Oct 2020] 
  4. Office for National Statistics (2019) Cancer Survival in England: adults diagnosed between 2013 and 2017 and followed up to 2018 [Accessed May 2020]
  5. National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service (2019) Stage breakdown by CCG 2017 [Accessed May 2020]
  6. Target Ovarian Cancer Pathfinder Study 2016 [PDF]
  7. Target Ovarian Cancer Pathfinder Study 2016 [PDF]
  8. Target Ovarian Cancer Pathfinder Study 2016 [PDF]
  9. National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service (2018) Routes to diagnosis 2006-2015 [Accessed Sep 2021]
  10. Target Ovarian Cancer and YouGov, February 2019
  11. National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service (2018) Routes to diagnosis 2006-2015 [Accessed Sep 2021]