By Helen Hills – Persistent bloating. Abdominal Pain. Feeling full quickly. Needing to wee more often.

The level of awareness of ovarian cancer symptoms is devastatingly low, and not knowing what to look out for could lead to a delayed diagnosis of the deadliest gynaecological cancer.

Did you know these symptoms?

I didn’t before I was diagnosed with stage III ovarian cancer.

I am writing to you today as we need to increase widespread awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer to help improve early diagnosis rates. Right now, just 1 in 5 (20%) women can name persistent bloating as a symptom of ovarian cancer1, with only one in three (34%) contacting their GP if they experience it2.

If I’d have known the symptoms, I would have seen my GP a lot earlier. 

I began to experience pain in my abdomen, similar to period pain, the summer before my diagnosis – along with needing to wee more often and changes to my bowel habits – but I just dismissed it due to my age.

I never had ovarian cancer in my mind. 

It was initially suspected as IBS, but a CT scan and ultrasound later confirmed the cancer, which had spread.

My experience has shown me that so much more needs to be done to raise awareness of ovarian cancer and its symptoms in order to save lives. If diagnosed at the earliest stages 9 in 10 women will survive3, but currently two thirds of women are diagnosed late, when the cancer is harder to treat4.

That’s why this Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month (March), together with Target Ovarian Cancer, I want everyone to know the potential significance of the symptoms: bloating, abdominal pain, feeling full quickly and needing to wee more often.

Help to stop this disease devastating lives.

Find out more by visiting or read my full story here.


1) Target Ovarian Cancer (2022) Pathfinder 2022: Faster, further and fairer.

Available at:

2) All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. 

Total sample size was 2330 adults.

Fieldwork was undertaken between 25th – 27th January 2023. 

The survey was carried out online.

The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+). 

3) Office for National Statistics (2019) Cancer Survival in England: adults diagnosed between 2013 and 2017 and followed up to 2018

4) National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service (2019)

Stage breakdown by CCG 2017

By Ed

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