A PEMBROKESHIRE woman is among more than 700 Welsh women demanding the Welsh Government fund a national campaign on the symptoms of ovarian cancer.

Amanda Davies, 49, from Pembrokeshire is one of the 750 women calling on the Welsh Government to prioritise this after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and given six months to live.

Amanda said: “By the time my symptoms appeared all together, I had stage three ovarian cancer and was given six months to live. This was devastating. I had been going to the GP, but it was never investigated as I was perceived as ‘too young’ for the disease.

“I had bloating and abdominal pain, two of the key symptoms, but there were some symptoms I didn’t know. I never put the symptoms altogether, despite knowing my nan died of ovarian cancer.

“To think, it was ovarian cancer making me unwell. I wonder if there had been an awareness campaign, listing the symptoms and sharing the experiences of women of all different ages whether I would’ve put it all together.”

The call comes as recent research from Target Ovarian Cancer, Pathfinder Wales: Faster, further, and fairer, found that women with ovarian cancer in Wales are being failed. More than 300 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year in Wales and survival rates are amongst the worst in Europe.

The research showed that only around a quarter of women knew that bloating was a key symptom of ovarian cancer.

After seeing this, the National Federation of Women’s Institutes in Wales (NFWI-Wales) was outraged and has partnered with Target Ovarian Cancer to create a petition demanding the Welsh Government takes action, which has been signed by 750 women. The petition was handed to the Senedd on Wednesday, November 15.

Amanda said: “A government campaign to raise symptom awareness and attract funding for research and charities supporting ovarian cancer patients is and should be a priority. The symptoms are often mistaken for other illnesses, stress, or misdiagnosed in younger women.

“Women may still feel embarrassed to talk about ‘problems down below’ and will often put their symptoms down to getting older – meaning their cancer is already advanced and in some cases untreatable – creating needless deaths.”

Jill Rundle, chairwoman of NFWI-Wales, said: “In 2021, WI members passed a resolution calling for more action to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer in order to save lives. Greater awareness of the symptoms is crucial to early diagnosis. Put simply, too many people are dying because their ovarian cancer is not found early enough. WI members are clear that this must change.”

What are the symptoms of ovarian cancer? 

  • Persistent bloating - not bloating that comes and goes 
  • Feeling full quickly and/or loss of appetite 
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain (that's your tummy and below)
  • Urinary symptoms (needing to wee more urgently or more often than usual) 

Occasionally there can be other symptoms: 

  • Changes in bowel habit (eg diarrhoea or constipation) 
  • Extreme fatigue (feeling very tired)
  • Unexplained weight loss 

Any bleeding after the menopause should always be investigated by a GP. 

Symptoms will be: 

  • Frequent – they usually happen more than 12 times a month
  • Persistent – they don’t go away
  • New – they are not normal for you  

Annwen Jones, Target Ovarian Cancer’s chief executive, said: “As there is currently no ovarian cancer screening programme, symptoms awareness is all the more crucial. By knowing the symptoms, a woman is more likely to contact their GP with their concerns earlier and have ovarian cancer ruled out or confirmed.

“A government funded awareness campaign listing the symptoms of persistent bloating, abdominal pain, needing to wee more often and feeling full quickly, would address our concerns, increase the number of women diagnosed at an early stage and ultimately the chances of survival.”

Target Ovarian Cancer is aiming for an awareness campaign in every nation in the UK. To find out more, visit www.targetovariancancer.org.uk.