More women now surviving ovarian cancer

Cancer cell
Image caption Early treatment may stop the cancer from spreading

Deaths from ovarian cancer have fallen by a fifth in a decade in England, figures reveal.

They show the disease now kills about nine in every 100,000 women, compared with 11 in every 100,000 in 2001.

Faster diagnosis and better treatment mean women are now surviving with their cancer for longer - five-year survival has increased from 33% to 44% over that period.

But experts say more still needs to be done to tackle ovarian cancer.

About 7,000 women develop it each year, making it the fifth most common cancer in women in the UK.

And ovarian cancer remains difficult for doctors to diagnose, which means it is often not picked up until it is more advanced and harder to treat.

'Could do better'

Hazel Nunn, head of evidence and health information at Cancer Research UK, said: "It's encouraging to see that the number of women dying from ovarian cancer is falling, especially as ovarian cancer can be difficult to diagnose and treat.

"It may be that use of the contraceptive pill, which has a protective effect, has helped to halt the rise in ovarian cancer rates.

"Still around 7,000 women develop the disease each year - so if you experience tummy pain, bloating or a sense of feeling full that won't go away, which happens on most days, then you should pop to your doctor.

"It's most likely to be something much less serious than ovarian cancer but it's still worth getting checked out."

Annwen Jones, of Target Ovarian Cancer, said despite improvements, the UK still lagged behind other European countries in terms of cancer survival and that the remaining high death rate among older women with the disease was of particular concern.

For women aged 15-39 diagnosed with ovarian cancer, 84% survived their disease for at least five years compared with 14% of those aged over 85 years at diagnosis, according to the National Cancer Intelligence Network report.

Ms Jones said: "If we only matched the European survival rates, 500 women's lives would be saved, every year."

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