One in five women don’t want to ‘make a fuss’ when addressing possible symptoms of cancer

Pictured are INGO members Lily Fox (221+), Dr Niamh O'Connell (Emer Casey Foundation), Dr Marion Butler (MU, investigator funded by Breakthrough Cancer Research), Deirdre Flannelly (Ovarian Cancer Survivor), Dr Sharon O'Toole (coordinator INGO), Dearbhla Bayle (SOCK), on Grafton Street last weekend ahead of World Ovarian Cancer Day, where graffiti artist Brutto created an impressive temporary mural on clingfilm educating passers-by on the BEAT ovarian cancer symptoms. (Pic: Marc O'Sullivan)

New research carried out in April 2024 amongst adult women in Ireland, has highlighted that one out of five women in Ireland are reluctant to address the symptoms of cancer with a healthcare professional as they ‘don’t want to make a fuss’. The study was commissioned by the Irish Network for Gynaecological Oncology (INGO) to mark World Ovarian Cancer Day on Wednesday, 8th May.

The INGO are deeply concerned about the lack of awareness of symptoms among women in Ireland, with four in five not confident of identifying symptoms.

Alarmingly the research also shows that one in five women would not attend their doctor with possible symptoms because they are worried about what it might unearth, and one in five would not attend because they are ‘too busy’.

Unfortunately, more than three quarters of patients with ovarian cancer are diagnosed when the disease is at a late stage.  This is partly due to the vagueness of symptoms and similarity with other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, and in some cases, symptoms may not always be obvious or present at all.


A campaign has been launched to raise awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer and encourage women to contact and explain their symptoms to their GP if they are worried, as early diagnosis can save lives.  The campaign emphasises the BEAT symptoms:

• Bloating that is persistent and doesn’t come and go

• Eating less and feeling full more quickly

• Abdominal and pelvic pain you feel most days

• Toilet changes in urination or bowel habits

The clear message is that if a woman experiences any of these symptoms for three weeks or more, she should contact her GP. 

Annually, approximately 400 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and almost 300 women die from this disease in the Republic of Ireland. Early diagnosis can significantly improve survival – 88% of patients diagnosed with stage one ovarian cancer are alive five years after diagnosis compared to 17% with stage four ovarian cancer.