I was honoured recently to be invited to speak at the prestigious biennial conference of the European Society of Gynaecological Oncology (ESGO) in Nice, France. As a member of the Committee of ENGAGe – the European Network of Gynaecological Cancer Advocacy Groups – I was also closely involved in planning, and spoke at, the Patient Seminar that took place on the first day of the conference.
Established by ESGO in 2012, ENGAGe is a unique network of 80 patient advocacy groups from 25 countries representing women with ovarian, cervical, womb, vulval and other rare gynaecological cancers. The groups vary in size, age and focus but all share the ESGO mission of improving the health and wellbeing of women diagnosed with a gynaecological cancer.
Latest developments and best practice
The Patient Seminar brought everyone together in an all-day event to hear about the latest developments in research, prevention and treatment updates and – most importantly - to share best practices. There were sessions on cross-border collaboration; setting up an advocacy group; communications and campaigns on a shoestring budget; and finally one on patient involvement in clinical trials, about which I feel passionately, which I had the great pleasure to lead. A key theme of the day was empowerment and I was grateful to my colleague Louise Horner for putting on a well-attended workshop on social media for beginners.
Beyond that, however, there is no underestimating the importance of the patient voice being heard at such prestigious clinical and scientific meetings, especially when a small minority of healthcare professionals remain to be convinced!
Step-change in survival
We urgently need to see a step-change in survival for women with ovarian cancer, and it’s clear that we can achieve so much more, and more quickly, by pooling our efforts and working together. That is why I’m working with leaders from North America and Australia, as well as Europe, to develop a platform for global action against ovarian cancer. In the meantime, the fourth World Ovarian Cancer Day will take place on 8 May 2016 – please put this date in your diary now!
Annwen Jones, Chief Executive
Target Ovarian Cancer wishes to thank ESGO ENGAGe for inviting us to speak at the conference and for funding travel costs.