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2012 National Women's Conference
20 October 2011

Last year’s conference motion on Ovarian Cancer would have been a wake up call to women members unware of the necessity of early detection of ovarian cancer for there to be any reasonable chance of effective treatment.

To be told one has cancer is terrifying enough, but for those whose cancers have no immediate symptoms – often called the silent killers – ovarian cancer, prostrate cancer, kidney cancer the long term prognosis is often not good as by the time symptoms manifest themselves the only possible treatment is invasive and not very successful. In addition all too often early symptoms are not acted upon by the sufferer and/or detected or misdiagnosed as something far less sinister.

Figures published in The Lancet show that about eighty two per cent of British women with breast cancer survive to at least five years after diagnosis. For ovarian cancer the figure is just thirty six per cent. The key reason for the difference is late diagnosis. An early diagnosis could double the survival rate. Ovarian Cancer Action estimates that the UK has the worst survival rate in the developed world and is taking steps to improve survival through funding research and raising awareness.

One of the methods for detection is a Twenty pound (approx) blood test that can highlight possibility of “cancer makers” the proteins and antibodies already at work in fighting the disease deep within the body. Although some in the medical profession question the reliability of the blood test, it has been effective for many women in early detection of ovarian cancer and more importantly is relatively cheap and non invasive. However, many GPs do not offer the blood test and too many women are unaware that it even exists as a procedure to detect the possibility of ovarian cancer.

Conference asks the National Women’s Committee to:

1)Continue to support the work of Ovarian Cancer charities/research organisations.

2)Raise awareness amongst UNISON women members of the relatively simple tests available that could aid early detection.