A new report conducted by the nonprofit World Ovarian Cancer Coalition found that women diagnosed with ovarian cancer lack crucial knowledge about the disease.
According to NPR, 1,531 women across 44 “high-, middle- and low income countries” filled out an online questionnaire and prior to their diagnoses, “two-thirds of the women surveyed either had never heard of ovarian cancer or were familiar with the name but didn’t know anything about the disease.” This is especially concerning considering that ovarian cancer is the eighth leading cancer in women and that an estimated 300,000 women worldwide will develop it this year.
The World Ovarian Cancer Coalition believes “one in six will die within three months of diagnosis and fewer than half will be alive in five years.”
The issue exists everywhere—in the United States, the average time from first symptoms to ovarian cancer diagnosis is 36 weeks. In Germany, diagnosis is quick but access to specialists is dire. No country has a great system for identifying ovarian cancer, a largely preventable and in some cases, curable, disease. Italy appeared to lead the way with 62% of women getting diagnosed within one month. In one case, a woman in Brazil was only diagnosed because her doctor conducted a pelvic ultrasound which is not a “common practice” stateside. American women were also most likely to wait more than three months before consulting a doctor about their symptoms.
Ovarian cancer symptoms are slight, which could explain the ignorance surrounding the disease. They are: bloating, adnominal pain, difficulty eating and/or feeling full quickly, frequent urination, fatigue, constipation and back pain. The World Ovarian Cancer Coalition believes the first step towards a worldwide transformational change is awareness, so next time you’re at the gynecologist and you possess any of the aforementioned symptoms, don’t be afraid to ask. It could save your life.
Read the report in full here.