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WOCD Press Release by ISGOPPI and Ovacare


BEAT Ovarian Cancer!

Do Not Ignore Abdominal Changes or Family History  

On World Ovarian Cancer Day, 8th May, Ireland’s foremost Ovarian Cancer Campaigners, Researchers and Patient Advocates are advising women across Ireland not to ignore the warning signs of Ovarian Cancer, a disease commonly known as the ‘silent killer’.

Ovarian cancer is the 6th most common female cancer in Ireland. Approximately 411 women are diagnosed each year with 272 women losing their lives due to the disease. Ireland ranks among the highest in the world in terms of mortality from ovarian cancer.  The BEAT Ovarian Cancer Campaign highlights the key signs of the disease.

BEAT Ovarian Cancer by knowing your body, knowing the signs and getting help at an early stage if you have any of the following for three weeks or more:

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

This World Ovarian Cancer Day, a new video from Breakthrough Cancer Research uses the personal experiences of ovarian cancer patients and survivors to highlight the signs and symptoms for women to look out for.

In the video, Clare woman, Mary McGrath says “If I had known 10 years earlier that this IBS was not IBS, I probably would have been caught at stage 2 or 1.” Symptoms of ovarian cancer can be similar to IBS so it is important to talk to your GP, particularly if you develop IBS symptoms after the age of 50.

Ovarian cancer patient and advocate, Anne Herlihy shares her story in the video too. “I wish I had known. If I could go back and know that that chronic constipation I had for months was a symptom of ovarian cancer, things would be different.”

Watch the video.

World Oarian Cancer Day will be marked with free public information events being held in Dublin, Cork and Galway. Dr. Dearbhaile Collins, consultant medical oncologist at Cork University Hospital who will speak at the Cork event says

The symptoms of ovarian cancer can be confused with other illnesses. However, the key difference is that these symptoms are persistent and do not come and go. The BEAT campaign is encouraging women to be aware of changes in their stomach, pelvis and abdomen and to speak to a GP where they are concerned. Women with a family history of Ovarian or Breast Cancer should be particularly vigilant and mention this to their GP.”

Dr. Sharon O’Toole, senior research fellow in Trinity College Dublin, working in the area of ovarian cancer emphasises that

Symptoms can be similar to other conditions, which can lead to late stage diagnosis and has led to the disease being known as the ‘silent killer’. While there have been many advances in the diagnosis and treatment of many other cancers, ovarian cancer has had little improvement in its prognosis over the last 20 years.”

The focus in the past year on another gynaecological cancer, Cervical Cancer, has highlighted the importance of screening programmes and vaccinations, where these are available.  Smear tests and the HPV vaccine are not effective for Ovarian Cancer however.  Unfortunately, the fight against Ovarian Cancer also struggles with a lack of a simple diagnostic test which makes individual vigilance of symptoms all the more important.

World Ovarian Cancer Day is a global movement bringing women living with ovarian cancer, their families and supporters, patient advocacy organisations, medical practitioners and researchers together to raise awareness of ovarian cancer.

To mark World Ovarian Cancer Day, the following buildings have generously agreed to ‘Light Up in Teal’ in support of this global initiative – City Hall, Cork; Convention Centre, Dublin; Mansion House, Dublin; National Concert Hall, Dublin; Pearse Lyons Distillery, Dublin; Titanic, Belfast; University College Cork.

Raising our voices in solidarity in Ireland are Breakthrough Cancer Research, East Galway and Midlands Cancer Support Centre, Emer Casey Foundation, Irish Cancer Society, Irish Society of Gynaecological Oncology, Karen Fenton Ovarian Cancer Fund, Marie Keating Foundation, National Cancer Control Programme, OvaCare, SOCK, St. James’ Hospital Foundation (GynaeCancerCare) and Trinity College Dublin.


Information Note

To raise awareness on World Ovarian Cancer Day free public events will be held in Dublin, Cork and Galway on Wednesday, 8th May.  Information posters are attached.

  • Dublin: James’ Hospital, CRF Seminar Room, 8th May, 9.30 – 11.30 am. For further information
  • Cork: Western Gateway Building, UCC, 8th Refreshments 6.30-7pm; Talks 7-8pm. For further information
  • Galway: East Galway Cancer Support Centre (in conjunction with the Marie Keating Foundation), Ballinasloe, 6.30pm – 9pm. For further information

For more information on World Ovarian Cancer Day visit:

The following are available for further media outreach over the World Ovarian Cancer Day period –

  • Anne Herlihy from Charleville Co. Cork was diagnosed with terminal stage four ovarian cancer in 2014. Following treatment, including with a trial drug for patients with the BRCA gene, she was in remission for a period. She has used her voice consistently throughout her illness to raise awareness of the disease, not having been aware of ovarian cancer at all before her diagnosis. Contact via Orla Dolan
  • Brenda Quinlan from Douglas Cork was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer in 2006. She is currently undergoing treatment and feels it is vital we get the word out so women can be aware of the signs and diagnosed as early as possible.  Contact via Orla Dolan     
  • Antoinette Traynor from Dublin was diagnosed in 2016 with stage 3 ovarian cancer and has had two reoccurrences within 7 months and 5 months. She is currently undergoing treatment which is slowly working. Contact via Orla Dolan
  • Mary McGrath from West Clare was diagnosed in 2011 with Stage 3c Primary Peritoneal cancer which is a rare form of ovarian She was treated with chemotherapy which kept her in remission until 2016 when she had a recurrence in her lymph nodes. She is currently having more chemotherapy for another recurrence in the same lymph nodes. In between in 2017 Mary had a mastectomy for unrelated Breast cancer. Genetic testing showed that she is not BRCA positive. Contact via Orla Dolan     
  • Sharon O’Toole is a senior research fellow in Trinity College Dublin working in the area of ovarian cancer.  Her research interests centre around diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers for ovarian cancer and translating these into the clinic.  Dr. O’Toole has been instrumental in bringing together the medical, research and charity organisations involved in ovarian cancer in Ireland and supporting World Ovarian Cancer Day here.  Contact
  • Sharon McKenna is a Principal Investigator at Cancer Research at UCC.  Her research is in the area of chemoresistance and how novel drug combinations can improve the efficacy of chemotherapy.  Chemoresistance severely limits treatment success in ovarian cancer and Dr. McKenna’s work focusses on multiple cancer types including ovarian cancer. Contact