Four ovarian cancer charities come together every March for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Here their Chief Executives take turns to answer the question: Ovarian Cancer Awareness month – why does it matter?
Athena Lamnisos, Chief Executive of The Eve Appeal
“Talking openly is a powerful tool in the campaign to raise awareness of ovarian cancer. And this is a cancer that really does need all the help it can get in the fight to get it the awareness and funding it deserves. Survival rates are low, treatment options are limited and diagnosis often comes late.
“Gynaecological cancers and their signs and symptoms are too-little known, often stigmatised and not talked about enough. We must make sure that women feel empowered to speak out about the disease – with friends, family and healthcare professionals.
“Early detection is key, and with so few women in the UK confident of spotting a symptom of ovarian cancer – we’ve clearly got some work to do here. That’s one of the big jobs that we share with all the ovarian charities and support groups.
“So let’s all do something today that can change things. Let’s open up about ovarian cancer, for women today and for women of the future.”
Annwen Jones, Chief Executive of Target Ovarian Cancer
“Late diagnosis of ovarian cancer is a major issue for women with ovarian cancer and their families. Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month gives us all an opportunity to come together to make women and GPs more aware of the symptoms and the vital importance of early diagnosis.
“Over a quarter of women are diagnosed through emergency presentation – meaning they are diagnosed very late, with more invasive treatment and lower survival chances. This figure is falling, as a result of the fantastic work that has already been done, but it is still unacceptably high. I speak far too often with women who have been diagnosed late. It is their stories, not the statistics that give me the passion for improving early diagnosis, for raising awareness.
“It’s so essential during Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month that we all work together to make sure every woman has the best chance of survival, let’s make 2016 our most eventful year yet!”
Katherine Taylor, Chief Executive of Ovarian Cancer Action
“Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month is an incredibly important opportunity to make our voices heard. Ovarian cancer is not as well known as other female cancers, yet it is the fifth most common, with a woman dying every two hours.
“This shocking statistic could be reduced if cases were diagnosed earlier and this will only happen if we can raise awareness. We want every woman to know the symptoms and to feel confident that they can speak to a well-informed doctor.
“A greater awareness of ovarian cancer will also help increase fundraising efforts. This is vital for funding the pioneering scientists who are making great strides at our world-class Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre.
“This year we celebrate the tenth year of Ovarian Cancer Action funding research and we are proud of what we have achieved together. With your support we are positive that we can accelerate the rate of progress during #thenext10.”
Louise Bayne, Chief Executive of Ovacome
“Having recently discovered that a national ovarian cancer screening programme remains at best years away, knowing the symptoms of the disease continues to be paramount in beating it.
“Awareness months gives us the chance to spread the message of the main signs to look out for. It’s a time when we have the full attention of the media and a focus for members to support our annual awareness and fundraising activity.
“This year we have symptoms awareness posters to display in GP surgeries. Also, we will engage all ages with our #TealTips campaign, in which we ask women to paint their nails teal to spark conversations about the disease.
“Help us turn heads and raise money by purchasing a bottle of this year’s #TealTips colour – Green Berry at www.barrym.com – and by posting a selfie on social media wearing the varnish, together with your story.”