On International Women’s Day, Marie Claire Platt, our Head of Operations and Campaigns, tells us why we need to #PressforProgress in ovarian cancer survival.
International Women’s Day is back with a bang for 2018. In a year that’s seen #Metoo, TimesUp, and the centenary of the women’s vote, it’s easy to feel optimistic that the tides are slowly turning in regards to gender equality.
But when I think about this year’s IWD theme #PressforProgress, I can’t help but think about how much progress we desperately still need to make with survival rates of ovarian cancer in the UK. A disease that kills a woman every two hours, striking the heart of what it means to be a woman.
But this year we’re striking back.
I’ve been so proud to see the launch of our Stolen Moments campaign this month. Almost 20 years of anniversaries, birthdays, weddings and graduations are stolen from a woman who dies of ovarian cancer. There is currently no screening tool for the disease, but we want to raise £1million for research to change this for the next generation.
While we look ahead to the future, we can’t forget that we urgently need change for women diagnosed with the disease today too.
The picture is still unclear about what is going on in diagnosis and treatment throughout the UK. Women with ovarian cancer should have access to the same early diagnosis and high quality treatment regardless of whether they live in London, Lancaster, Leith or Llanelli. Sadly, we know this isn’t the case.
A national clinical audit would collect the data we need to get the full picture. From diagnosis to treatment and survival, an audit would highlight the parts of the country where best practice is happening, while identifying places where we need to see improvements. Clinical audits have already improved survival rates in lung, bowel, and other cancers. We need to press for the same progress in ovarian cancer too.
In 2015, the Government’s Chief Medical Officer called for a national clinical audit of ovarian cancer, saying it was “long overdue”. But over 2 years later, an audit still hasn’t happened. We’re not willing to wait any longer.
OCA supporter Gemma Carroll lost her mum to ovarian cancer in 2016. She’s set up a petition calling on the Government to fund a national clinical audit for ovarian cancer now:
“Shockingly, the UK has one of the worst survival rates in Europe for ovarian cancer. It’s too late for so many women like my mum, but we must do better. In 2015 the Chief Medical Officer called for an audit of ovarian cancer treatment & survival. Funding an audit is key to saving more women's lives.”
Whether you can spare one minute or one hour, you can help make an audit a reality. Take action this International Women’s Day. Sign and share the petition, write to your MP or donate so we can get the message further.
Join us in demanding big change in 2018. An audit, a screening tool, better survival rates. We’ve waited long enough. We need progress now.