We’re so ‘o-vary’ close to a cure, says Ovarian Cancer Australia
- Researchers believe they’ve never been closer to improving treatment for the nation’s deadliest female cancer
- OCA will triple any donation made on Teal Ribbon Giving Day.
- Currently 1 woman dies every 8 hours from the disease
Australia, 1 February 2020: Ovarian cancer is the deadliest yet most underfunded female cancer in Australia. Currently only 46% of women diagnosed will survive past five years. However, according to Ovarian Cancer Australia (OCA), 2021 is the year of hope as researchers believe they’ve never been closer to a breakthrough.
Professor David Bowtell one of Australia’s leading translational ovarian cancer researchers, explains, “recent advances in our understanding of the disease have left us more optimistic than ever before that new treatments will be found for women with advanced ovarian cancer”.
“We now know that ovarian cancer is not one disease, but a spectrum of related diseases with unique genetic characteristics. This is creating the potential for developing more effective, personalised treatment options for women living with the disease,” Prof. Bowtell adds.
This is why during Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month (OCAM) - which starts today – Ovarian Cancer Australia aims to increase Australians’ understanding of the disease and appeal for donations that can help ensure more women live longer and the 5,000 Australian women currently living with the disease have the support they need, and deserve.
Over 1,500 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year in Australia and one woman dies every 8 hours from the disease. That’s three each day. And for around 70% of those with advanced disease who do achieve remission, the disease will come back.
“We need more evidence and more resources to improve the lives of the women with this horrific cancer,” CEO of OCA Jane Hill explains. “Any donation during Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month can really help us get there and this year for every dollar donated on Teal Ribbon Giving Day on the 24 February, Ovarian Cancer Australia will triple it, thanks to our generous major supporters.”
The tripling of donations commitment comes as OCA celebrates 20 years of improving support and awareness of the disease and making incremental progress in care and treatment.
Funds raised will be used to increase support and care for women living with ovarian cancer and their families, by giving all Australians impacted by ovarian cancer access to specialist ovarian cancer nurses. The aim: to ensure that no woman with ovarian cancer walks alone.
“We are proud of the progress we’ve made to date, with our advocacy efforts resulting in the Federal Government awarding $35m for critical research projects in the past two years. The fact researchers are confident we’re closer to finding a cure for advanced disease than ever before truly fills us and the ovarian cancer community with real hope,” Ms Hill adds.
The majority of women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer at an advanced stage, largely because signs and symptoms are vague and are commonly experienced by many women. A lack of an effective screening test also makes early diagnosis incredibly hard.
For Chloe Spitalnic, this is exactly what happened. At only 22, the Masters student is much younger than the average female diagnosed with ovarian cancer as she explains:
“I was diagnosed with stage 3 low grade serous ovarian cancer in August 2020, two weeks into Melbourne’s stage 3 lockdown. It was a complete shock to be diagnosed with ovarian cancer, especially as there is no history of cancer in my family. I had never really heard of ovarian cancer affecting young women, making the whole experience quite isolating and scary,” Ms Spitalnic said.
“I initially called my GP after a few days of pain in my abdomen, which I just shrugged off as normal body pains. I was very fortunate that my GP had treated ovarian cancer patients in the past and referred me to get an ultra-sound. A few months later and I’ve gone through two surgeries and four rounds of chemotherapy, but I’m determined not to let this get in the way of my Masters, and I’m happy to say I’ve managed to continue studying and even squeezed in an exam in during this period too.”
“From my experience, it’s extremely important to listen to your body and always seek medical advice, no matter how minor the issue may be. I think as a country we need to increase awareness of ovarian cancer and educate women of all ages that this cancer does not discriminate against age,” Ms Spitalnic concludes.
Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month runs throughout February, to find out more information or to donate, head to ovariancancer.net.au.