Action Needed on Ovarian Cancer Survival Rates
Sammy Wilson MP for East Antrim attended the launch of the Pathfinder 2016 Report by the Target Ovarian Cancer Campaign at Westminster.
Across the United Kingdom 4,000 women die from the disease each year or 11 per day and though survival rates have improved in recent years, the UK still lags behind many other countries when it comes to successful treatment.
Firstly, survival rates could be increased with earlier diagnosis. Up to 90% of women would survive 5 years or more if diagnosed at the earliest stage yet currently two-thirds of women are only diagnosed after the cancer has already spread. Early diagnosis requires a two-prong approach - educating women to look for the symptoms and ensuring that GPs have the knowledge to refer women promptly.
Secondly there needs to be greater support given to women throughout the treatment process since the specialist nurses are becoming increasingly stretched and little attention is given to the effect of the treatment on women’s mental health. Victims have asked the National Health Service to honour their commitment to a new Cancer Strategy so that all those who are diagnosed with the disease have access to a clinical nurse specialist.
Thirdly, there needs to be greater attention given to the treatments which work and those treatments which are not as successful and this requires a more extensive audit of the treatments that are used. It is ironic that over all levels of investment in the search for better treatments has actually fallen in recent years.
Target Ovarian Cancer have promised separate detailed studies of the treatment support and care in Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales. It is important that we have knowledge of any variations there may be across the United Kingdom and an improvement in the survival rates in the UK which are amongst the worst in Europe.