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2006 National Women's Conference
13 January 2006

Conference is concerned at the increasing number of women suffering from ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is the fourth most common cause of death from cancer amongst women in the UK and is known as the silent killer.

Every year about 6,000 women in the UK are diagnosed with this disease, the majority of these cases only have a few symptoms, which are treated as other illnesses until finally being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The fact that no screening is readily available means that two-thirds of those diagnosed will lose their lives to this terrible disease

One in 57 women will get ovarian cancer, a disease when caught in advanced stages has a five year survival rate. However, in cases where ovarian cancer is detected early, 95 per cent of women will survive much longer than five years and as much as 30 years.

In 2001, trials began to examine the effectiveness of screening procedures to give early warning of this disease. Ultra sound and a simple blood test known as a CA 125 are the methods that are used. As reported in the Spring 2005 OVACOME (support group) bulletin the results are very encouraging.

The trials are funded by the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, the Eve appeal and the NHS research and development, but the trials are due to be completed in 2011. By which time over 50,000 women will have died from this disease, a high proportion of which could have been prevented by this simple screening method.

Conference calls upon the National Women’s Committee to:

1)launch a campaign to promote awareness of ovarian cancer informing women of the symptoms of this silent killer;

2)encourage regions to promote awareness/training for women in UNISON regarding ovarian cancer;

3)liaise through our Affiliated Political Fund to lobby parliament to fund more money into research and to campaign for the right of all women across the country to be screened for ovarian cancer regularly;

4)include any new research in UNISON publications.