Pudsey MP, Stuart Andrew, calls on Government to act now to save lives

Mr Andrew today led a debate on ovarian cancer in Westminster, attended by Care Services Minister Paul Burstow.

Mr Andrew is a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Ovarian Cancer who were seeking rapid improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of women in the UK with the disease, which has one of the poorest rates of survival in Europe . Only 36% of women survive for five years after diagnosis.

Mr Andrew said: “This debate is vital in the campaign to ensure that women with ovarian cancer in the UK are diagnosed sooner and are treated better. There’s an urgent need for a national awareness campaign for the disease as the evidence shows too few women are being diagnosed quickly enough.”

He first learned of the UK’s record after meeting Horsforth constituent and campaigner Chris Shagouri at a Target Ovarian Cancer parliamentary event. Mrs Shagouri, who has the disease, told the Pudsey MP that too many women are dying of the disease. It prompted him to join the APPG for ovarian cancer in order to raise the profile of the disease in parliament.

The Target Ovarian Cancer Pathfinder Study showed only 4% of women felt very confident about naming a symptom of the disease. It also revealed a third had to wait months for a correct diagnosis.

APPG chair Sharon Hodgson MP said: “Currently, nearly a third of women are diagnosed after going to A&E, and a third of women wait six months or more before getting a correct diagnosis. A national awareness campaign encouraging more women to come forward and get tested would have a direct impact on early diagnosis, hugely increasing survival rates for women with the disease.

"Securing this debate was therefore a key objective of the APPG, as it gave us the chance to put our concerns directly to the Minister, and ensure that the Government is aware of the full facts of the situation, because too many women are dying needlessly at the moment.”

Annwen Jones, chief executive of Target Ovarian Cancer, praised the MPs’ determination to make a difference: “Women in the UK are not being diagnosed quickly enough because not enough women and GPs know what symptoms to look for. As a consequence women go undiagnosed until their cancer is advanced which means it’s much harder to treat successfully.

“Target Ovarian Cancer works alongside MPs to ensure that the Government is aware of the full facts about the tragedy of this disease which is that late diagnosis claims too many women’s lives. The Department of Health’s own figures show that 500 women’s lives could be saved each year if only the UK matched European survival rates. Today’s debate helped to drive home some of these key points with the minister. ”

Care Services Minister Mr Paul Burstow MP, responding at the end of the debate, acknowledged that the Department of Health were now looking at piloting an ovarian cancer campaign, and he agreed to meet with representatives of the All Party Parliamentary Group as they requested.