Dialog Box

Three reasons why early detection research should be a priority

The State of the Nation report, an independent audit on ovarian cancer research, found that early detection is the key to improving survival rates.

Despite this, early detection research is currently not prioritised by the Australian government. Here are three reasons why this research must be at the top of our nation’s medical research agenda:

1. Ovarian cancer survivability is low — even by 1975 standards

The survival rate for ovarian cancer today is lower than the survival rate achieved for all cancers in 1975.


Ovarian cancer has been left behind in nationwide efforts to improve treatment and survival rates, and that’s simply unacceptable.

Fortunately, other cancers today, such as the majority of breast, uterine or cervical cancers, are diagnosed while the cancer is still localised, making it more treatable. Ovarian cancer, on the other hand, is most often diagnosed when the cancer has already spread, resulting in a poor prognosis for survival.

The missing piece is an early detection test. Being able to detect ovarian cancer in its early stages is the key to improving survival rates. It will ensure treatment is successful, and chances of recurrence (when the cancer comes back) are low. As a country, we need to invest now in early detection research to improve outcomes for our next generation of women and save lives.

2. Early detection will save the lives of 8,000 women over the next decade

For women living with ovarian cancer now — we need to focus on improving treatment outcomes. But for the next generation of girls and generations to come, research into an early detection test is vital to ensuring they have more than half a chance of surviving..

In fact, finding an early detection test now would enable us to save the lives of 8,000 women by 2030.


Ovarian cancer is difficult to detect in its early stages. It is a silent killer because its symptoms are vague and nonspecific.

An early detection test will make sure this silent killer does not remain unnoticed, that our daughters will be able to live their lives without the threat of a late stage ovarian cancer diagnosis. This test should become part of every woman’s routine health checks, just like the pap smear.

3. The experts agree that early detection is vital

The State of the Nation audit interviewed ovarian cancer researchers, clinicians and patients to gain their perspective on how best to improve ovarian cancer outcomes.

The overwhelming response: early detection.


Late stage diagnosis was seen as the biggest barrier to improving survival outcomes, and patients with ovarian cancer marked early detection as critical.

If I have to choose between research on treatment or research on early detection, I choose early detection every time. (But) of course we need both.”

Ovarian cancer patient

The OCRF is the largest national funder of early detection research, with the Australian government contributing only 19% of ovarian cancer research funding to this area. In order to improve outcomes, we urgently need increased investment in this area of medical research. You can let the government know you want them to make early detection research a priority by signing the petition here.

08 September 2020
Category: Blog
Tags: cancer screening, early detection, early detection research, early detection test, medical research, ovarian, ovarian cancer, ovarian cancer research, screening, women's cancer,