A West Belfast woman diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer has urged Belfast City Council to raise awareness of the disease among GPs and the general public.
Una Crudden, 59, told the council that she and four other women were initially misdiagnosed as having illnesses with similar symptoms to ovarian cancer like diverticulitis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
Of the five women, diagnosed around the same time, Mrs Crudden is the only one still alive. She said the fact that misdiagnosis was common, although preventable, made her ‘so mad and so sad.’
Every year 7,000 women in the UK are diagnosed with the disease, of which 4,300 will die, according to recent research by ovarian cancer charity, Target.
The study revealed that up to 90% of women would live for five more years if they were diagnosed at the earliest stage.
It also stated that there was a serious lack of awareness of ovarian cancer symptoms among NI women.
“Ovarian cancer is called the silent killer because by the time you realise you have it, in most cases it’s already too late,” Mrs Crudden told councillors.
Mrs Crudden, a grandmother of six, suggested that GPs complete a free training course about ovarian cancer offered by Target to combat misdiagnosis. She also implored the public to be pro-active where their health is concerned.
“I say to all women of all ages to be body aware and if you have the symptoms and they persist, go back to your GP and insist on further tests, as it may save your lives.”
A motion to raise awareness of ovarian cancer was proposed by the SDLP’s Nicola Mallon, who urged councillors to vote in favour.
“Una may be one voice, but without question she is a powerful voice and the least that we can do is unite together and to add our voice to hers.”
DUP Alderman Ruth Patterson also praised Mrs Crudden’s speech to the council and said that she was an ‘extremely brave and inspirational woman.’
The motion was passed unanimously and will see the Council consult Health Minister Edwin Poots in a bid to encourage early diagnosis and improve ovarian cancer survival rates.