Fifth of women wrongly believe 'smear tests detect ovarian cancer'

Fifth of women wrongly believe 'smear tests detect Ovarian cancer' Credit: PA

One in five UK women mistakenly think a smear test can detect ovarian cancer, according to new research.

Smear tests are in fact used to detect cervical cancer and the misconception puts 22% of UK women, a total of more than five million people, at risk, a survey carried out by Target Ovarian Cancer and YouGov has indicated.

More women died from ovarian cancer in the UK (4,227) than from all other gynaecological cancers combined in 2016, according to Cancer Research UK.

Pat Taylor, 67, from Carrickfergus in Northern Ireland, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2017.

She said: "I had always thought cervical screening detected ovarian cancer, and that I was covered when I had my smear tests.

"When I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2017 after a two-year delay, it was such a shock.

"Now I want all women to be vigilant of the symptoms of ovarian cancer - better awareness will save lives."

  • What are the symptoms of Ovarian cancer?

Symptoms for ovarian cancer, according to charity Target Ovarian Cancer, include:

  • Feeling bloated

  • A loss of appetite

  • Pelvic or abdominal pain

  • Needing to urinate more regularly and urgently

Occasional symptoms can also include changes in bowel habits, extreme fatigue and unexplained weight loss.

The key thing to note according to Target Ovarian Cancer is that these symptoms will be persistent and frequent, happening more than 12 times a month.

Annwen Jones, chief executive of the charity, said: "We need to combat the confusion around ovarian cancer and cervical screening, because while smear tests are a vital tool in public health, a similar option simply does not exist in ovarian cancer."

As part of the survey, YouGov asked 1,070 women about ovarian cancer.

  • What should you do if you're worried?

Individuals can call nurse advisers from Target Ovarian Cancer on 0207 923 5475. Lines are open from 9am to 5:30pm Monday to Friday.

It is also important to contact your GP as soon as possible if you spot any symptoms that are abnormal for you.

  • How do you find out more?

March is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, when Target Ovarian Cancer tries to raise awareness of the disease.

There is more information on the charity's website site and its social channels.