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Women 'unaware' of ovarian cancer

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Nearly a third of women mistakenly think ovarian cancer can be detected by a smear test, research has shown.

A survey of more than 1,000 women showed only 33% had been given information about ovarian cancer, compared with 66% informed about cervical cancer.

Many women believed ovarian cancer to be less common, and only 4% thought they could spot symptoms themselves.

About 56% of women with the disease said they were not aware of it before their diagnosis, and many reported that their GPs first thought they were suffering from irritable bowel syndrome or urinary tract infections instead.

Target Ovarian Cancer and BMJ Learning hope to improve diagnosis rates by launching an online tool, which incorporates the latest evidence to provide GPs with signs, symptoms and diagnostic tests.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “Where GPs think that there are symptoms that require investigation, they will be able to refer for the appropriate tests to be carried out within one week.

“Our aim is to start rolling this out from 2011-12 over a five-year period, starting in the first two years with ovarian, lung and colorectal cancer - with an expectation that people would know within two weeks whether or not they had cancer.”

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