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Monday 24th October 2016

Ovarian Cancer

20th March 2006

14032006_lindasmith1.jpgLinda Smith, the comic, broadcaster and writer sadly died of ovarian cancer on February 27th, just days before the start of Ovarian Cancer Awareness month. Many spoke of the warmth and humour of Linda, who was also President of the British Humanist Association (www.humanism.org.uk). In tribute to Ovarian Cancer Awareness month we look at websites dealing with Ovarian Cancer.

Ovarian Cancer is said to be 'the Silent Killer', but ovarian cancer awareness month particularly set out to highlight the importance both amongst professionals and the public of greater awareness of the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer. There is as yet no national screening programme for ovarian cancer, and the message of awareness month is 'until there's a test, awareness is best.'

Key Facts for Ovarian Cancer;

  • The fourth most common cancer in women, with 7,000 cases a year
  • The biggest gynaecological killer (5,000)
  • Survival rates in the UK are amongst the worst in the developed world
  • In the UK, only 30% of women can be expected to live 5 years, in the US it is over 50%
  • Until better diagnostic and screening tests are developed, early diagnosis through reporting of symptoms is the best chance to improve those rates
  • Diagnosis is difficult because symptoms are often similar to common, mild and benign ailments
  • Symptoms include a constantly swollen abdomen, unexplained nausea or indigestion, ongoing excessive fatigue, abnormal bleeding, persistent changes in bowel or bladder pattern, unexplainable back or abdominal pain.

What are some of the available websites dealing with ovarian cancer?

Ovarian Cancer Action

What are its aims?

Ovarian cancer seeks to; promote research - raising funds for a dedicated ovarian cancer research unit; raise awareness of the disease amongst the public and health professionals; develop effective ways for patient's voices to be heard and to raise the profile of the disease at a national level, for the benefit of women.

What is it?
Ovarian Cancer Action takes forward the work of the Helene Harris Memorial Trust (HHMT) which brings together leading researchers and clinicians from around the world every two years to debate, prioritise and forge collaborations in the field of ovarian cancer.

Allyson Kaye, Helene's daughter, has taken the HHMT charity forward as Ovarian cancer action so that instead of being a Harris family initiative, it is about placing ovarian cancer on the nation's agenda; enabling women with the disease, and their families to express and share their thoughts, to be heard and to have hope.

The website gives details of the research activities;

Ovarian cancer action has taken the decision to fund its own UK research unit with the aim of improving early diagnosis, finding better treatments and ultimately ways of preventing ovarian cancer altogether.

Based at Imperial College/Hammersmith Hospital and working formally with The Royal Marsden Hospital and Institute of Cancer Research, the unit is developing a highly active programme to identify, generate and develop promising and high quality research into the disease.

The website also provides a range of information on ovarian cancer; what it is, the risk factors, signs and symptoms, family history, screening and reducing risk. It outlines diagnosis, type of ovarian cancer, staging and grading. It gives information on treatment, new therapies and the role of clinical trials.

It also usefully provides a section on 'My Ovarian Cancer' giving advice on coping with the news, questions that one might want to ask, other useful organisations and a 'website jargon buster'.

Where can I find it?
Ovarian Cancer Action can be found at:

Helene Harris Memorial Trust (HHMT)

What are its aims?

HHMT works in a range of ways to drive improvements in outlook for women with ovarian cancer.

To defeat ovarian cancer, it seeks to answer the following questions:

How can we prevent the disease?

If we cannot prevent it, how can we improve early detection?

If we cannot improve early detection, how can we improve treatment?

If we cannot improve treatment to the point of cure, how can we increase the length of remission?

It states that within each of these aims the overriding emphasis must be for the wellbeing of the patient. Prevention, detection and treatment must take care to maintain the patient’s quality of life.

What is it?

John Harris set up the Helene Harris Memorial Trust (HHMT) in 1986 following the death of his wife Helene aged 48, from ovarian cancer. During her treatment John travelled to New York to seek advice, and found himself acting as a conduit between clinicians, who began sharing information through him.

HHMT was thus formed to provide a structure where many clinicians and scientists from around the world, could meet and exchange views on the latest work. John Harris received an MBE for his work in ovarian cancer in 1996, and a CBE in 2005. Since 2000, his daughter Allyson Harris Kaye has continued to build this unique international research community.

HMMT seeks to bring together world leading researchers and clinicians to develop new talent, share information, and forge collaborations through the biennial forums and publications.

The website has information on the activities of HHMT; its series of public lectures, the biennial forum which forms the hub of its work and publications arising from these forums.

It also includes information on ovarian cancer, giving an overview, plus risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis, screening, trials and treatment as well as useful links to other sources of information.

Where can I find it?

The Helene Harris Memorial Trust (HHMT) can be found at:

WellBeing of Women (WOW)

What are its aims?

WellBeing of Women says that its mission is 'to put an end to fear and suffering from women's reproductive problems.' It aims to bring benefits and improvements to women's reproductive health, whatever their age or stage of life.

What is it?

It was founded in 1964 by Professor Will Nixon, an obstetrician, who was moved by a young man whose wife had died tragically in childbirth. Originally it intended to raise money for medical research into reducing maternal deaths, founding the 'Childbirth Research Centre'. This gestated to 'WellBeing' in the early nineties, in line with its original quest to respond to important health challenges faced by women.

It seeks to fund the finest obstetric and gynaecological research by supporting people and research projects. It also provides reassurance and information, whilst also looking to raise the awareness of the need for more funding in women's health in the public arena.

It is dedicated to raising awareness and securing more support and funds to invest in new medical research in three main areas; gynaecological cancers; pregnancy and birth; quality of life problems such as polysistic ovary syndrome, endometriosis, menopause, painful periods and incontinence.

It has collaborated with Ovarian Cancer Action in its contribution to ovarian cancer awareness month. A leaflet on Ovarian cancer can be downloaded from the site, with information on the cancer and further useful addresses.

Where can I find it?

WellBeing of Women can be found at:


What are its aims?

Ovacome aims to provide information and support for everyone affected by ovarian cancer; families, friends, carers and health professionals.

What is it?

Ovacome is a charity founded on the personal experience of Sarah Dickinson, herself an ovarian cancer sufferer, who wanted other women to be able to access clear, reliable information, support and advice.

It contains information on ovarian cancer - from diagnosis, talking with the medical team, types of ovarian cancer, treatment, living with cancer, screening, research and trials. The website includes stories from people who have ovarian cancer. It also focuses on support; financial aid, practical support and emotional support.

Ovacome also provides resources in a series of factsheets, and a link to a network of phone support with other people who have ovarian cancer - fonefriend.

Where can I find it?

Ovacome can be found at:

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