Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson meets Formby campaigners

Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson with Susan and Stephen Handley who visited Parliament to promote the Be Clear on Cancer campaign.

Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson said more needs to be done to raise awareness about ovarian cancer in Sefton.

The MP met with Formby couple Susan Handley and husband Stephen in Parliament where he heard abut the poor rates of survival for women diagnosed with ovarian cancer in Sefton.

Susan, 54, was diagnosed with primary peritoneal cancer, a type of ovarian cancer, in March 2011. She had gone to see her doctor five months before with symptoms of the disease but had been sent away since ovarian cancer often has symptoms similar to common illnesses such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

The charity Target Ovarian Cancer had invited Susan to attend the All Party Parliamentary Group on Ovarian Cancer meeting at Westminster as a participating observer. She was joined by her husband, Stephen, and by Bill Esterson, who as her MP, wanted to show his support for Susan and for all woman who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

At the meeting, Susan was told that the North West of England will pilot the first ever regional ovarian cancer awareness campaign early next year - as part of Be Clear onCancer, which is run by Public Health England, NHS England and the Department of Health. The North West has among the lowest one and five year survival rates for ovariancancer in the country.

According to a study produced by Liverpool City Council in August, Sefton has a one year survival rate of 68.1%, compared to the England average of 71.4%, and compared to other North West areas such as Warrington of 74.5%. The five year survival rate for Sefton is 32.4%. This is significantly lower than the England average.

Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson with Susan and Stephen Handley who visited Parliament to promote the Be Clear on Cancer campaign.Susan said: "Most women with ovarian cancer are diagnosed at the late stages of the disease when they only have a 26% chance of surviving for five years or more. 

"It’s a tragedy when better awareness of symptoms among women and GPs would help many to get a prompt diagnosis, and hopefully mean they survive the disease. 

"Survival rates for ovarian cancer in Sefton are below the national average, and the average for the area, so having the awareness pilot in this area is a really important step forward.

"For GPs to be able to spot a case of ovarian cancer, women need to recognise the symptoms which are persistent bloating which doesn’t come and go, abdominal pain, an increased abdominal size, difficulty eating or feeling full or having urinary difficulties like needing to wee more often. 

"If women have any of these symptoms very frequently, particularly more than 12 times a month, and especially if they are over the age of fifty, they should visit their GP.

"It was great to meet Bill Esterson. I know he’s a tireless campaigner on many issues so I was especially pleased when he visited the meeting to find out more about what’s happening to help woman who have this cruel disease."

Bill thanked Susan and Stephen for meeting him and said more must be done to raise awareness.

Bill said: "By meeting with Susan and her husband Stephen and attending the All Party Parliamentary Group on Ovarian Cancer meeting, I've been able to understand better some of the very difficult challenges there are in diagnosing and treating this disease. 

"Clearly in the Sefton area, we need to do much more to make women and GPs aware of the symptoms, and ensure they get quick access to tests and treatments. 

"That's why I will be happy to support the Be Clear on Cancer campaign when it launches early next year."



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