Alister Henskens portrait
Alister Henskens portrait

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

Ovarian Cancer Ribbon

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS ( Ku-ring-gai ) ( 15:57 :09 ): Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month is held in February of each year to raise awareness of ovarian cancer and to recognise women, their families and friends affected by ovarian cancer. The last Wednesday in February is Teal Ribbon Day. Teal, as we have heard, is the international colour for ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is the eleventh most common cancer in women, and the sixth most common in female cancer deaths. In 2012 in New South Wales 468 new cases of ovarian cancer were diagnosed, with a projection of 572 new cases annually by 2021. Ovarian cancer will account for about 2.6 per cent of all projected cancer diagnoses in New South Wales by 2021 and 5.2 per cent of all projected cancer deaths. In New South Wales alone, one woman in 80 will develop ovarian cancer by the time she is 85, and only 40 per cent of women diagnosed will survive five years.

The gynaecological cancers that are the most common, and the most common causes of cancer deaths, are cancers of the uterus, ovary and cervix. It is a sad fact that of all the gynaecological cancers, ovarian cancer has the lowest rate of survival. While there have been great advances in reducing cervical cancer through the national screening program, and with Australian research leading to a vaccine against the human papilloma virus, no-one has yet developed a screening test for ovarian cancer. This makes it so important that we are all aware of the symptoms of ovarian cancer, which are often similar to other medical conditions. For New South Wales women diagnosed between 2005 and 2009, the five-year survival rate for ovarian cancer was 40.4 per cent—up from 35.5 per cent for women diagnosed between 1995 and 1999. We know that if the disease is not widespread at diagnosis, a woman's chance of surviving improves.

Early detection is a significant factor in survival from ovarian cancer with 82 per cent of women surviving beyond five years if the disease is localised when diagnosed.

Between 2007 and 2016 the New South Wales Government, through the Cancer Institute NSW, awarded $17 million in competitive research funding towards gynaecological research, including at least $10 million on research for ovarian cancer. Part of the annual investment in research includes funding for Career Development and Early Career Fellowships, which are key components of the NSW Cancer Plan to increase survival rates of people with cancer by building cancer research capacity. The Cancer Council NSW services directory provides information about other services, including accommodation, legal and financial assistance, transport and home help, and counselling services. The New South Wales Government is proud to support Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, as demonstrated by its strong investment in ovarian cancer research. I encourage all members to attend the Morning Teal event to be hosted by the Minister and the member for Swansea next Wednesday in the Jubilee Room, Parliament House, from 10.00 a.m. to 11.00 a.m.