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  • Australian women have a poor understanding of ovarian cancer

    Author: AAP

A survey shows Australian women have a poor understanding of ovarian cancer, with almost 70 per cent not knowing there are symptoms for the deadly disease.

Victorian woman Emma Burt was just 32 when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and admits she had little awareness about the disease before it "happened to me".

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Unfortunately her naivety on the deadly disease is not uncommon.

A national survey reveals Australian women have a poor understanding of ovarian cancer, with almost 70 per cent not knowing there are symptoms.

The reality is that more than 90 per cent of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer experience one or more of the known symptoms.


Social Worker Grade 2
St Vincent's Hospital
Frontline Health Brisbane
Occupational Therapist
Talent Quarter PTY Ltd

Ms Burt, from Glen Waverley in Melbourne, is now 34 and says in "retrospect" she had exhibited all the classic symptoms that include pelvic pain and abdominal bloating.

"The symptoms are so easy to dismiss as being caused by a myriad of other things in a hectic life," she said.

The survey of more than 1000 participants, conducted by Wallis Social and Market Research and commissioned by Ovarian Cancer Australia, also found only 18 per cent knew the survival rate is dismal.

And alarmingly more than 50 per cent incorrectly believe a pap smear can detect the disease.

"It is staggering that more than half of Australian women incorrectly believe that the pap smear can detect ovarian cancer," Ovarian Cancer Australia CEO Jane Hill said of the "grave" survey results.

Of the estimated 1550 women diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year in Australia, 1000 will not make it past five years post-diagnosis, says Ms Hill.

Ovarian cancer is a "callous" disease and with no early detection test it's vital women know, ask and act on the symptoms.

"Knowing the symptoms of the cancer is the first important step towards detection," Ms Hill said.

"If women have the symptoms, if they are new to them or have them persistently over a four to six week period then they should go and consult a GP," said Ms Hill.

The vision of Ovarian Cancer Australia is to see an increase in the survival rate by 25 per cent and to reduce the incidence by 25 per cent by the year 2025.

"If we had the same sort of focus and funding for ovarian cancer that has allowed breast cancer to improve their survival rates it will really help the survival rates of ovarian cancer," Ms Hill said.

The Four Key Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer:

  • Abdominal or pelvic pain
  • Increased abdominal size or persistent abdominal bloating
  • The need to urinate often or urgently
  • Feeling full after eating a small amount


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