Ovarian Cancer

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2007 National Women's Conference
15 February 2007

Ovarian cancer is the fourth most common cause of death from cancer amongst women in the United Kingdom (UK) and is known as the silent killer.

One-hundred women die each week from ovarian cancer; it is the fourth most common cancer in women, and the biggest gynaecological 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.

Most cases are not diagnosed until the cancer has spread significantly, due to lack of awareness and a lack of screening, meaning survival rates are very low at 29 per cent. In cases of breast cancer this survival rate is 80 per cent.

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 CA125 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 National Health Service R&D, 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 on the National Women’s Committee to raise awareness of ovarian cancer by:

1)working with Labour Link to:

a)liaise through our Affiliated Political Fund to lobby Parliament to fund more money into research and to bring forward the availability of screening to women across the country.

b)liaise with the government with a view to launching a national awareness campaign in relation to ovarian cancer;

c)urge the government to look at ways of funding further research into improved screening methods for ovarian cancer;

d)work towards establishing a national awareness day for ovarian cancer in the United Kingdom; and

2)raising an awareness campaign throughout UNISON at national, regional and local levels.