Our latest press release

Women act on their pet’s health twice as fast than they do their own

Charity calls on women to #OvaryAct and take action to change the fact that 90% of women do not know the symptoms of ovarian cancer

• It takes women 15 days to act on their health, twice longer than it takes to act on their pet’s

• 90% of women do not know the symptoms of ovarian cancer

• More than two thirds of women would act in less than a week for symptoms of breast cancer, less than a quarter would do the same for symptoms of ovarian cancer

• One in four wrongly think a smear test detects ovarian cancer

• 39% of women do not know the role of the ovaries 

• One woman dies of ovarian cancer every two hours in the UK

New research from the charity Ovarian Cancer Action has revealed the true extent that women are putting themselves last when it comes to health. It also highlights a general confusion around the symptoms and screening tests for the sixth most common cancer among women, ovarian cancer. 

From parents to pets, women are shown to prioritise everyone’s health above their own. On average, it takes women less than seven days to act on a health concern of a pet but more than twice as long, 15 days, to act on their own. Comparatively, it takes women five days to act on the health of their children, six for a partner and eight for their parents.

The research, marking the start of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month this March, reveals that, though women are clued up about other cancers, they do not have the same knowledge of ovarian cancer.

While women take immediate action on symptoms of breast cancer, with more than two thirds (68%) acting in less than a week if they found a lump in their breast, less than a quarter would do the same if experiencing symptoms of ovarian cancer. 

This lack of action is explained by new figures exposing the fact that 90% of women do not know all of the symptoms of ovarian cancer, with a third (32%) not knowing any at all. 

Ovarian Cancer Action is calling to change this as it asks the UK to #OvaryAct; to take action on ovarian cancer, to pay attention to the symptoms, inform others and for women to get checked if they’re worried. 

Despite one woman dying of ovarian cancer every two hours, there is further confusion around screening of the disease. One in four (23%) women wrongly think a smear test detects ovarian cancer and just slightly fewer (20%) mistakenly think it detects all gynaecological cancers. It does, in fact, detect for cervical cancer only. 

An additional 39% of women also do not know the role of the ovaries; with 13% of women thinking that they are the eggs and 12% believing the ovaries to be the location where the egg and the sperm meet. 

Katherine Taylor, Chief Executive of research charity Ovarian Cancer Action said:

“As women, we often put the needs of those important to us before our own.  But in order to look after others, we have to look after ourselves first. That’s why we need to #OvaryAct.  We need to know and understand the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer so we can seek help and get treatment as soon as possible.”

Sarah Passby, ovarian cancer survivor, said:

“There are countless times that I have encouraged my children and husband to act on their health concerns and go to the doctor. Looking back, I didn’t prioritise my own health in the same way and, like many women, wrongly assumed a smear test meant I was safe from cancer. Having been through ovarian cancer, I’ll do anything to make sure other people are aware of the symptoms and are acting on them if worried.” 

Advice from Dr Christina Fotopoulou, surgeon and researcher at the Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre:

Symptoms of ovarian cancer can be difficult to pinpoint and are often mistaken for symptoms of less serious conditions, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Regular experience of the following could be a symptom of ovarian cancer, if you’re worried, speak to your GP.

  • Persistent bloating
  • Persistent stomach pain
  • Finding it difficult to eat or feeling full quickly
  • Needing to wee more often

Other symptoms you may notice include:

  • Back pain
  • Changes in your bowel habits (diarrhoea or constipation)
  • Feeling tired all the time

For more information on ovarian cancer, go to www.ovarian.org.uk



For more information please contact:


0203 6965800

Notes to editors:

The research: Censuswide polled 1,001 women in the UK in February 2017. 

Ovarian Cancer in the UK: The facts

• It is the deadliest gynaecological cancer and the sixth most common cancer among women

• There are 7380 new diagnoses each year 

• The UK has one of the lowest survival rates in Western Europe, with a woman dying from ovarian cancer every two hours;

• That amounts to almost 4,300 deaths each year

Ovarian Cancer Action is the UK’s ovarian cancer research charity and its mission is to fund research that saves lives. From funding scientists on the front line, to mobilising millions of people across the UK to take action – Ovarian Cancer Action is driven by a vision of a world without ovarian cancer and a belief that it can create a better future.