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Ovarian Cancer Action turns “Tampon Tax” funds into innovative IMPROVE UK project

08 March 2022

ImproveUK Map Ovarian Cancer Action.png

Today on International Women’s Day, we have launched IMPROVE UK – an innovative project that aims to significantly reduce the unfairness women currently face in healthcare and the disproportionately low survival rates of women with ovarian cancer. 

Our IMPROVE UK project is the first of its kind and is designed to significantly improve survival rates by ensuring that no matter where a woman lives in the UK, or her ethnicity, she can get the ovarian cancer diagnosis, treatment and care she needs. 

In this first phase of this project, we have awarded six grants for pilot projects. The funding comes from a £1 million investment we secured from the UK Government Tampon Tax Fund.

IMPROVE UK will bring together six NHS Cancer Centres across the UK to improve knowledge, best-practice, and data sharing. The pilots target a wide range of issues in the current system, in a bid to improve the access to high quality care for more women. These include: 

  • Introducing pre-habilitation services for women, to ensure more can access lifesaving surgery – reducing the gap in survival rates
  • Improving the uptake of genetic testing, especially in BAME communities
  • Reducing delays from diagnosis to starting treatment

Following the pilots, we will share the learnings with other cancer centres across the UK to help drive wider changes and improved health services for women.  

“Women have been living with the inequality gap in care and treatment for too long and now is the time for action and change. We welcome the determination of those involved in the pilots to find solutions.”

Cary Wakefield, CEO of Ovarian Cancer Action

With this year’s International Women’s Day theme of Break the Bias, striving for a world free from bias, stereotypes and discrimination, we are playing our own part in working towards this shared goal to forge women’s equality by tackling systemic and regional health inequalities for women with ovarian cancer. 

The IMPROVE UK project is also designed in response to previous work funded by us which revealed the unacceptable disparities in survival rates for different women: 

  • 5-year survival rates range from 29% to 50% across different regions in England
  • Women over the age of 70 are less likely to receive any treatment compared to younger women 
  • Less uptake of important genetic testing in patients from BAME groups

The launch of IMPROVE UK is supported by the British Gynaecological Cancer Society (BGCS), the ovarian cancer patient support charity Ovacome and a dedicated Patient Advisory Group.

You can find out more about IMPROVE UK and the individual pilot projects here