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Charity aims to develop first screening tool for ovarian cancer

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A charity is encouraging nurses to support its appeal to develop the world’s first screening tool for ovarian cancer.

Ovarian Cancer Action (OCA) has launched a new appeal to fund research into a test that can detect the disease in its earliest stages and potentially save thousands of women’s lives a year.

“By detecting the disease in its earliest stages, we can give every woman a fighting chance”

Daisy Woolfrey

Since 2014, the charity has funded the work of Professor Ahmed Ahmed, a world-renowned ovarian cancer expert, and his team at the University of Oxford.

The researchers have previously discovered a protein, called SOX2, which is found at higher levels in women with early-stage ovarian cancer or in women who are predisposed to the disease due to an inherited gene mutation.

The charity hopes that, eventually, women could be tested for this protein and identify if they have, or if they are at risk of developing ovarian cancer.

The aim of the new appeal is to fund five years of further research to help create “the world’s first screening tool” to detect the disease, the charity told Nursing Times.

Daisy Woolfrey, corporate partnerships manager at the charity, said: “Ovarian Cancer Action are inviting nurses to be a part of changing the history of women’s health by helping to fund research into developing the world’s first screening tool for ovarian cancer.”

The OCA believes the appeal is important for nurses, because they are at the “frontline of women’s health”, noted Ms Woolfrey.

“Nurses know more than anyone about the devastation that an ovarian cancer diagnosis can cause for a woman and her family,” she told Nursing Times.

If ovarian cancer is detected at Stage 1, a woman has a 90% chance of survival, yet if the disease is detected in Stage 4, they have just 4% chance of survival, the charity highlighted.

“There is currently no way to detect ovarian cancer while it is still easily treatable”

Daisy Woolfrey

The aim is create a test to “detect pre-cancerous cells before they even develop into ovarian cancer, in the same way that the cervical smear test detects pre-cancerous cells in the cervix”.

Ms Woolfrey added: “Unlike other cancers, like bowel or cervical, there is currently no way to detect ovarian cancer while it is still easily treatable.

“Ultimately, this research will be the first steps in developing an ovarian cancer screening tool that can help us replicate the success of the cervical smear test,” she said.

“We need to prevent late diagnosis of ovarian cancer from ever happening,” she said. “By detecting the disease in its earliest stages, we can give every woman a fighting chance of beating ovarian cancer.”

  • Donations can be made to the appeal via its webpage
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