WOMEN are being urged to be aware that peristently feeling bloated could be a sign of ovarian cancer.

St Helens Council’s Director of Public Health Liz Gaulton said: “The earlier the disease is diagnosed the more treatable it is. More than eight in 10 new cases of ovarian cancer are in women aged 50 and over.

“Worryingly though, women in this age bracket in the North West are unaware that the risk of ovarian cancer increases with age. Almost half thought women of all ages were equally likely to get ovarian cancer.”

Latest figures show that 854 women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the North West in 2011. The same year, 461 women died of the disease in the region.The warning follows new survey data that shows women across the North West have low awareness of ovarian cancer symptoms.

Almost all women questioned did not link persistent bloating with ovarian cancer. Feeling bloated most days - for three weeks or more - is the focus of a new Be Clear on Cancer campaign launched in the North West by Public Health England.

Ovarian cancer awareness events will be held in at Church Square Shopping Centre (from March 3-8) and the Hardshaw Centre (March 13- 15).

GP Dr Stephen Cox, Clinical Accountable Officer of NHS St Helens CCG, said: “Finding ovarian cancer early makes it more treatable. More than 90 per cent of women diagnosed with the earliest stage of ovarian cancer survive for at least five years. But the figure drops sharply to around five per cent for women diagnosed at the most advanced stage.

“Around 500 lives could be saved in England each year if survival rates for ovarian cancer matched the best in Europe. One way of achieving this is through earlier diagnosis.”

More information on cancer will be available when the Merseyside and Cheshire Cancer Network’s iVan arrives in Church Square on February 24, March 5, 7 and 21.