“Enough is enough.” These are the words etched onto paper by over 20,000 people in an open letter, published by Target Ovarian Cancer, urging the government to take action on the ovarian cancer awareness crisis – a disease which kills 11 women every day1.
Today, Target Ovarian Cancer campaigners marched to Number 10 Downing Street to amplify the voices of thousands of people who have signed the open letter demanding that the government take urgent action to save lives.
This momentous milestone – the first time thousands have come together to call on the government in this way – comes following the alarming findings of the charity’s latest research which revealed that four out of five2 women could not name the key symptom of ovarian cancer, persistent bloating. This is in addition to the Ovarian Cancer Audit Feasibility Pilot which revealed 14% of women diagnosed in England between 2013 and 2018 died within two months of diagnosis, and 30% died within the first year3.
The open letter has been led by Target Ovarian Cancer – the UK’s leading ovarian cancer charity that improves early diagnosis, funds life-saving research and provides much-needed support to everyone affected by ovarian cancer.
As there is no current effective screening process for ovarian cancer, knowing the symptoms – persistent bloating, abdominal pain, feeling full quickly, and needing to wee more urgently – is essential to survival and early diagnosis. Annwen Jones OBE, Chief Executive of Target Ovarian Cancer, said:
“At Target Ovarian Cancer, we know that there is a huge crisis in ovarian cancer awareness and diagnosis and are overwhelmed by the strength of support our open letter has received. It’s extremely sobering to see over 20,000 people come together to demand that the government take immediate action to save lives. 20,000 voices cannot be ignored.
“The reality is that too many people are dying as not enough is being done to make the symptoms of ovarian cancer known. The reality is that diagnosis is coming too late because of this. The reality is that we need the government’s support to reach anyone who could be diagnosed early with this disease in order to save lives.
The open letter tells the government what is needed to combat the crisis: dedicated ovarian cancer symptoms awareness campaigns across the UK. One supporter who joined fellow Target Ovarian Cancer’s campaigners is Annie Griffin, who was diagnosed with stage Ia mucinous ovarian cancer – a rare type of ovarian cancer – in 2020. Annie added:
“If we don’t share our ovarian cancer experiences with our MPs how will they know what we go through? How can we expect change if we don’t speak up?
“The weeks and months that it took to get diagnosed and finally understand what was wrong with me took their toll. I genuinely thought it was middle age, perimenopause, and fibroids. Nothing rang alarm bells, and I don’t want that to happen to other women. That’s why we need more awareness around ovarian cancer, that’s why I’m on a mission to help make that happen.”
The charity was outside Westminster today on behalf of 20,000 people, demanding the government take urgent action on the ovarian cancer awareness crisis.
Della Ogunleye, 60 from London, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2019, also attended the open letter hand in, added: “Target Ovarian Cancer amplifies our voices. Together, we can reach places and have conversations that we may not be able to achieve alone. The saying goes, if you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together.
“We need greater awareness of symptoms now. By standing together our voices will be louder.”
To find out more about Target Ovarian Cancer or access its support line visit www.targetovariancancer.org.uk.