Earlier diagnosis of ovarian cancer could save the lives of 500 women a year, campaigners say.

The disease has the second highest rate of late diagnosis of any cancer, after pancreatic cancer, and one in three women is only diagnosed after admission to A&E.

The charity Target Ovarian Cancer is calling on the government to improve early diagnosis through a national awareness campaign, and for GPs to carry out easy checks on women with symptoms.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has recommended that GPs who suspect women have the disease order a simple blood test.

As part of its Let’s Talk campaign, Target Ovarian Cancer is highlighting a “postcode lottery” in survival rates across the UK and a gap in survival between the UK and many parts of Europe.

More than 6,500 women in the UK are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year, and the disease kills more than 4,300 annually.

About four out of 10 women live for at least five years after diagnosis, dropping to three in 10 after a decade.

Symptoms include persistent pelvic or abdominal pain, increased abdominal size or bloating that does not go away, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly and needing to pass urine more urgently or often.

Other signs can include changes in bowel movements and extreme tiredness.

Target Ovarian Cancer chief executive Annwen Jones said: “Over the last few years, we have taken decisive action to break the vicious cycle of poor awareness, low survival and chronic underfunding.

“Today, with the launch of Let’s Talk, we are starting a new movement to persuade the Government to take further action to improve diagnosis.”

Eilish Colclough, a 43-year-old mother of five from Derbyshire, has advanced ovarian cancer.

She said: “The need for more awareness around ovarian cancer is crystal clear. What are we waiting for?

“Thousands more women will lose their lives if this disease isn’t picked up quickly enough.

“All women should know the symptoms and should have the confidence to keep speaking to their GP if they are worried.

“The government could make a huge impact on saving lives from cancer now if it acted on ovarian cancer awareness.”

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: “Our Cancer Outcomes Strategy sets out our plans to increase public awareness of the symptoms of cancer and to encourage earlier presentation to the doctor with those symptoms - this will be very important in achieving earlier diagnosis of ovarian cancer.

“It also sets out plans to help GPs diagnose cancers earlier, primarily through improved access to diagnostic tests.

“Research is currently under way to test the feasibility of screening for ovarian cancer, to help achieve earlier diagnosis.”