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Women are missing signs of ovarian cancer -- survey

Almost one in three women (29pc) mistakenly believes a smear test will pick up signs of ovarian cancer, a poll found.

Only 4pc were confident they could spot symptoms of the disease themselves and many believed it was less common than cervical cancer.

Some 6,800 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year and 4,500 die from it, four times as many as die from cervical cancer.

Symptoms include permanent bloating and tummy pain.

The poll of more than 1,000 women found that twice as many (66pc) had been given information about cervical cancer as those who had details on ovarian cancer (33pc).

Of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer, more than half (56pc) did not know anything about the disease beforehand.

TV presenter Gaby Roslin is backing a new campaign by the charity Target Ovarian Cancer called Unzipped.

She said: "Not enough women know about ovarian cancer and there is confusion between it and cervical cancer.

"Make yourself aware and look after your ovaries, so that you have the chance to catch ovarian cancer early and vastly increase your chance of survival.

"Three times as many women could survive if it was diagnosed at the earliest possible stage.

"If you regularly have difficulty doing up your trousers and perhaps look like you could be pregnant, have persistent tummy pain and feel full or have difficulty eating, it's best to get checked out."

If diagnosed at the earliest stage, up to 90pc of women with ovarian cancer can survive. However, 85pc of women will die once it has spread.

Many women with the disease say their GP failed to spot it initially, with the most common diagnoses being irritable bowel syndrome and urinary tract infection.