ONLY 29 per cent of women in north Essex were diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the earliest opportunity, figures have revealed.

The charity Target Ovarian Cancer carried out research into diagnosis following Government plans to make sure 75 per cent of all cancers are diagnosed at stage one or two by 2028.

The earlier a woman is diagnosed with ovarian cancer, the greater her chance of long-term survival.

While more than 90 per cent of women diagnosed at stage one will survive five years or longer but this drops to just over ten per cent for women diagnosed at stage four.

The study shows for the North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, which covers Colchester Hospital, the number of women diagnosed with early stage disease is much lower than expected.

Just 29 per cent of women were diagnosed at the first stage between 2012 and 2017.

There can be a number of reasons for this, including demographics, in particular age, with younger women more likely to be diagnosed with

earlier stage ovarian cancer.

A spokesman for the clinical commissioning group said there will be more training on diagnosing patients earlier.

He said: “We are focused on implementing initiatives to increase earlier diagnosis and improve outcomes for patients with ovarian and other cancers. We are working with our system partners such as GPs, hospitals and Public Health to achieve this.

“Over the past year, work has included an educational event with our primary care colleagues on the recognition of the early symptoms of cancer.

“A further event is being held to follow on from this.”

He added: “There is also ongoing promotion of messaging surrounding awareness of ovarian cancer, and the development of a Vague Symptoms Clinic, which will help reduce delays in care resulting in earlier diagnosis of cancer.”

The group is also encouraging women to contact their doctor with any concerns.

The spokesman added: “There are four main ovarian cancer symptoms more prevalent in women diagnosed with the condition.

“They are increased abdominal size and persistent bloating, persistent pelvic and abdominal pain, unexplained change in bowel habits and difficulty eating and feeling full quickly, or feeling nauseous.

“If patients have any concerns about their symptoms, they are advised to make an appointment with their GP.”