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Ovarian Cancer Australia (OCA) is calling on the government to invest in ovarian cancer treatment, research and equitable access to optimal care.

Promoting its annual Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month (OCAM), OCA’s Chief of Support Programs Sue Hegarty said the organisation had several initiatives to support people living with the disease and raise awareness.

The initiatives include growing the organisation’s Teal Support Program, a tele-support program that connects patients with specialist nurses, providing more than 1500 ‘Resilience Kits’ with information for those newly diagnosed with the condition, and new programs addressing sleep sexual health and exercise and nutrition.

“We know that Ovarian Cancer is the deadliest female cancer in Australia,” Ms Hegarty said, adding that the need for proper patient support was urgent.

Ms Hegarty said that OCAM was crucial in raising the broader public’s awareness around the issue.

“We ask Australians to come together to support and raise awareness of women with Ovarian Cancer.”

Several activities have launched throughout February to drive support for the cause, including the Carry the Courage Campaign, which aims to drive fundraising for Ovarian Cancer research by highlighting the stories of four women who lost their battle with the disease.

Ms Hegarty said that money raised from that campaign, the Teal Teas, which run from January to April, as well as matched donations by sponsors and partners from February 23’s Teal Ribbon Giving Day, will all help OCA’s lobbying work.

The latter fundraiser was particularly successful, with the organisation exceeding its $700,000 target for the day, with more funds trickling in at the time of writing.

“We know that those funds will help OCA to continue our work around advocating for women to receive better treatments and to increase support and care of women and their families who are living with the disease,” Ms Hegarty said.

The organisation’s advocacy work has already paid off this year, with a bipartisan commitment from both sides of the federal government to financially support the Teal Support program. At the same time, a sector-guided National Action Plan currently guides OCA’s actions across the 2020 to 2025 period.

OCA is also supporting the establishment of an Ovarian Cancer registry within the broader National Gynae-Oncology Registry. In 2019, successfully lobbied the federal government to insert $20 million of funding specifically to address Ovarian Cancer as part of the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

However, with 5,000 women across the country estimated to be currently living with the disease, Ms Hegarty’s said the need to continue to grow services that emphasise early intervention was crucial and urged nurses, midwives and other health professionals to continue to connect with the organisation.

“We know that our work with health professionals in the sector really helps us to raise this profile,” Ms Hegarty said.

“We ask health professionals to make contact with the organisation, to be aware of the supports we offer and to have an understanding of what specialised support women with Ovarian Cancer and their family members need.”

The sixth most commonly diagnosed cancer for women in Australia, government statistics show that the prognosis for women who live with Ovarian Cancer is poor.

According to the data, women had a 48% chance of surviving beyond the five years following diagnosis across the 2013 to 2017 period. Further, more than 1700 women received a positive diagnosis in 2021,

Ms Hegarty also said that a woman dies every eight hours from the disease.

More information on Ovarian Cancer Australia and its work can be found here