The idea is to raise awareness and increase survival rates for women in New Jersey suffering from ovarian cancer. The state Assembly has passed a measure which would establish a statewide public awareness campaign to inform people of the risk factors, symptoms, the need for early detection and methods of treatment.

"Found and treated in the earliest stages, the five year survival rate is 95 percent, but if it gets into later stages and the disease has spread, that rate decreases as low as 30 percent," said Assemblyman Dan Benson, co-sponsor of the measure.

Symptoms of ovarian cancer include abdominal discomfort or pain, such as gas, indigestion, pressure, swelling, bloating or cramps; nausea, diarrhea, constipation or frequent urination; loss of appetite, feeling of fullness after a light meal, weight gain or loss and abnormal vaginal bleeding.

"The problem is, symptoms of ovarian cancer often mirror other potential problems," said Benson. "The most obvious signs aren't so obvious, so if you're having abdominal discomfort, it's probably best to get a pelvic exam."

The legislation would require the Department of Health and Senior Services to develop printed educational materials and public service announcements in English and Spanish and to distribute the information to the public through a variety of means including physicians, health care facilities, pharmacies and senior citizen centers.