Lucinda Nolan reflects on the importance of amplifying the conversation around ovarian cancer and how gender equality will improve health outcomes for women.
Ovarian cancer has been a silent killer for far too long. Through decades of underfunded research and a lack of awareness, scientists have fought long and hard to conquer a type of cancer that goes widely undetected. Unfortunately, despite this hard work and investment, little has changed for the women who will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer today: their cancer is still likely to be diagnosed at a late stage, with devastating consequences.
I’m proud to say that the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation is led by and for women, and is working hard to change the story of women affected by ovarian cancer. Next week, on International Women’s Day, the world will come together to celebrate women and to use our collective voices to demand gender equality. In my mind, greater attention on women’s health should be at the centre of that conversation.
LATE DIAGNOSIS HAS DEVASTATING OUTCOMES
When it comes to ovarian cancer, too many women still lack sufficient information about their risk and symptoms to seek medical help before it’s too late. And for the women who do seek help, far too often they are ignored because their symptoms are nonspecific. Today, nearly 70% of women diagnosed will discover that their ovarian cancer is in the advanced stages, and only 25% of these women will survive beyond five years. For the vast majority of these women, remission is not possible.
Nothing about these facts is okay—it only reflects the unacceptable fact that as a society we’re not doing enough for women.
Moments like International Women’s Day prompt us to raise our voice to demand that all women are heard when they know something just isn’t right. That’s important, but it’s just one side of the picture. In order to save the lives of Australian women, what we desperately need is to fund the innovative research that will find an early detection test, and then focus on widespread adoption.
CHANGING THE STORY OF OVARIAN CANCER
Once we find an early detection test, scientists predict that over 90% of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer will survive the five-year mark. That statistic gives me hope, and motivates me to keep fighting for funding and visibility.
And so this International Women’s Day, we’ll be amplifying the conversation around women’s health equity and the critical need to advance ovarian cancer research. We’re hopeful we can win this battle but we need your support.
You can help to spread the message by sharing this blog post and, if you can, use this moment to support this life-saving research directly by making a donation.
Ovarian cancer is a complex disease, and researchers are only beginning to understand its intricacies. Through research for an early detection test, and a now growing focus on more personalised treatment, we hope that one day women can live free from the threat of ovarian cancer.
We believe that women affected by ovarian cancer must have a voice in this fight. That’s why our Consumer Representative Panel (CRP) brings together ovarian cancer patients and survivors to offer valuable insights into how research is designed, conducted and translated.
In this way, we want to empower those who are affected to highlight where they see the greatest need, so that our research always has their outcomes in mind.
We’ve already made great strides toward our vision, but we still have a long way to go. OCRF-funded research is essential to understanding this disease. The more we know, the better the outcomes for women.