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May 7, 2017

Ovarian cancer rates in Ireland 24% higher than in EU

Ahead of World Ovarian Cancer Day on 8 May, the Irish Cancer Society has said that Irish rates of ovarian cancer remain significantly higher than the EU average. Recent figures showed that in Ireland the incidence rate is 15.6 in every 100,000 people, compared with an average of 12.6 across the EU, representing a difference of almost a quarter.

The Society is this year teaming up with Ovacare, SOCK, the Emer Casey Foundation, Trinity College Dublin and a number of other organisations to promote World Ovarian Cancer Day and raise awareness of the disease among Irish women.

Naomi Fitzgibbon, Cancer Nurseline Manager with the Irish Cancer Society said, “In Ireland, on average, about 340 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year and there are about 272 deaths. We see that Ireland’s incidence and mortality rates are significantly higher than the European average. However, survival rates are very slowly increasing, about 3% over 15 years,[iii] and treatment plans and access to support is improving all of the time.”

“Over half of women are presenting with ovarian cancer at later stages, due to the issue of identifying the signs and symptoms[iv]. Ovarian cancer is traditionally been seen as a cancer with very silent symptoms but there are things to be aware of, such as the BEAT symptoms. I would urge women to listen carefully to their bodies and if they notice any changes at all to go see their GP and talk through their concerns,” Fitzgibbon concluded.

The BEAT symptoms are:

  • 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
  • Talk to your GP about your symptoms

Dr. Sharon O’Toole, Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology/Histopathology in St. James’s Hospital and Chair of Ovacare’s Medical Panel added, “We are delighted to be partnering with the Irish Cancer Society for World Ovarian Cancer Day this year, to raise awareness of this disease. The statistics related to this cancer make for sober reading, with just over 30% of women surviving for five years or longer. Early detection is vital in ovarian cancer and the vague symptoms certainly present challenges. But there are symptoms, and we need to listen very carefully to them.”

“This Ovarian Cancer Day, we have organised a number of events such as a coffee morning in Kilmainham, a tea dance in Galway, a survivorship event in St. James’s as well as seminars in the Science Gallery in Dublin and the Western Gateway Building in Cork, as well as a TV advertising campaign with Miriam O’Callaghan. We also have a number of buildings lighting up in teal on the day, including the National Convention Centre, University College Cork, NUI Galway, City Hall in Cork. We’d really encourage patients, families and anyone with an interest in this area to come along to the events, learn more about ovarian cancer and help us spread the word.”

Deirdre Kelly, an ovarian cancer survivor says “I was very lucky, my cancer was diagnosed at Stage 1 and I believe that was down to two things, my own instinct and my GP who was willing to believe that it was serious the first time I mentioned it to him. I had very few symptoms but in hindsight I knew there was something wrong. I urge all women to listen to their bodies; don’t put unusual aches and pains down to stress or everyday life, if they are unusual and you feel unsettled about them then make sure someone listens to you. I listened to my body, my GP listened to me and I am now a very grateful survivor of Ovarian Cancer.”

Deirdre will be telling her story at a lunchtime event on Monday 8 May in the Science Gallery, Trinity College Dublin.

For more information about World Ovarian Cancer Day events, visit our event page or