Ovarian cancer is the growth of malignant cells in the part of the female reproductive system responsible for the production of eggs. Ovarian cancer starts specifically in the ovaries; a cancer that starts elsewhere and spreads to the ovaries is not ovarian cancer.
The latest statistics available for Ovarian Cancer are from studies conducted through 2011 and 2012. The study revealed that:
- There were 7,100 new diagnoses in 2011 – an average of 19 women per day throughout the year
- It is the fifth most common cancer in women
- It is the second most common gynaecological cancer
- It is commoner in older age groups, particularly post-menopausal women. 75% of new diagnoses in 2011 were in women aged 55 or over
- It is increasingly common in younger women, with a 56% increase in diagnoses for women aged 15-39
- Curiously, several things appear to lower the risk of contracting ovarian cancer. Women who have at any point in their lives taken oral contraceptives, given birth or breast fed are said to be a lower risk.
- Women who have had hysterectomies or had the tubes tied also appear to have a reduced ovarian cancer risk
- Many women with the condition (approximately 1/3 of all cases) can expect to live for ten years or more after a diagnosis
- It is a disease to easily misdiagnose as some of the symptoms are also common to IBS
Some of these statistics are sobering so it is understandable that the condition is known as a silent killer. Unlike breast and cervical cancer, no effective screening process presently exists though one is presently undergoing testing and development. It is hoped that the screening test will be an early warning indicator similar to the smear test and the mammogram.
At the forefront of delivering effective treatment and future advances are:
- Professor Charlie Gourley at The University of Edinburgh: he helped Anneline Gorman before her death. His vital research into gene therapy and modern and advanced methods of chemotherapy is making great strides in ovarian cancer treatment
- Professor Hani Gabra: has a number of important roles in research into ovarian cancer. His particular area of expertise is in gene therapy, particularly research into genes that appear to suppress the development of tumours
Mortality rates are slightly higher for ovarian cancer than other female specific cancers such as breast and cervical cancer, which is why we at the Anneline Gorman Memorial Fund have made it our mission to increase awareness of the condition and to campaign for better funding. We want to make lives better for women with ovarian cancer and we need people like you to help us achieve this.