In the UK, the five-year ovarian cancer survival rate is just 43 per cent1. But if diagnosed at the earliest stage, up to 90 per cent of women with ovarian cancer would survive for five years or more2.
There is as yet no national screening programme for ovarian cancer, so it is vital that women develop better awareness of symptoms of ovarian cancer. At the moment, only 3 per cent of women in the UK are very confident at spotting a symptom of ovarian cancer3. Sadly, most women are diagnosed after the ovarian cancer has spread, making it more difficult and complex to treat.
What needs to change?
- There is an urgent need for a government-led, national ovarian cancer symptoms awareness programme. A campaign funded at this level, with advertising, will have the impact required to save significant lives.
- More women need to know that ovarian cancer exists, and that they need to take their symptoms seriously. We should never hear “But I’d never heard of ovarian cancer” again.
- GPs need to increase their awareness of ovarian cancer, and send women for diagnostic tests more quickly.
- All GPs across the UK need consistent and easy access to diagnostic tests.
Our campaign so far
Our projects to increase early diagnosis and raise ovarian cancer awareness include:
- Be Clear on Cancer: Target Ovarian Cancer has campaigned strongly for ovarian cancer to be included in the government’s Be Clear on Cancer programme.
- National ovarian cancer awareness campaigns: In Scotland, the Scottish Executive has already confirmed that ovarian cancer will be included in the Detect Cancer Early programme; in Northern Ireland, the Public Health Agency is currently undertaking a research programme around cancer awareness and early diagnosis before launching a cancer awareness campaign in late 2014.
- Online learning for GPs: We commissioned free online learning modules that will radically alter GPs’ understanding of ovarian cancer symptoms. Over 30 per cent of GPs have already completed the modules.
- Let’s Talk awareness programme: Let’s Talk is a training programme for anyone who wants to raise awareness of ovarian cancer.
- Work with pharmacies: We work with pharmacy chains to raise awareness of symptoms among pharmacists and the general public. Over 27,000 leaflets have been distributed as part of this campaign this year.
- Access to diagnostic tests: Our campaigning has led to a change in national policy and a major investment in transvaginal ultrasound equipment across England. Despite this, one in ten GPs has been refused access to tests in the last year4. We are continuing to work to change this.
Help us campaign
We could not achieve what we do without our volunteers and advocates. Here are some ways you can help:
- Get involved in our Let’s Talk programme, for those wanting to raise awareness:
- Opportunities include talking to friends and family, holding local talks, speaking to the media (your local paper, radio or national magazines and papers) or your MP. Other ideas include ladies' nights, quizzes, creating displays in local centres (librairies, community centres, workplaces) or asking your local GP or health centre to display posters and leaflets.
- Let's Talk is for everyone, whether a novice or more experienced in campaigning, with campaigners including ovarian cancer survivors, family members, friends and health professionals.
- Download our Let's Talk guide or Let's Talk Scotland or order a print copy packed with ideas and suggestions.
- Get involved with Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, by taking part in our 50s Challenge.
- Hand out copies of our symptoms awareness leaflet to your friends, family and contacts or download our symptoms poster (also available in other languages) to print off and display. Use our order form to order leaflets and posters.
- Ask your GP to complete one of our accredited online learning modules.
- Ask your MP to join the All Party Parliamentary Group on Ovarian Cancer.
- Share your story with us - it is the stories from people who have experienced ovarian cancer first hand that influence change, and that inspire women or family members in similar circumstances.
Become an awareness ambassador
We rely on volunteers to raise awareness of ovarian cancer and its symptoms with local and national communities. As a small charity, we just can’t do it without you. Becoming an awareness ambassador isn’t difficult. You can start small and raise awareness in your community. Or you can let us know that you’d like to help give talks to schools or local groups when we get invited. We’ll give you all the support you need. Contact us to get involved.
Share the symptoms
Help us spread the word by sharing our symptoms image with your friends and followers on Facebook or Twitter:
— TargetOvarianCancer (@TargetOvarian) March 26, 2015
Share our video
We asked women with ovarian cancer to tell us about their experience of the symptoms. Please share it to help us spread the word.
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