East Belfast MP Mrs Long was speaking after the launch of a report into ovarian cancer at Westminster by Ovarian Cancer Action, timed to coincide with Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. The report seeks to get widespread testing on the NHS for mutated BRCA 1/2 genes that causes the disease to increase in probability from one in 54 to one in two.
A recent study of the condition, known as the silent killer, showed just three per cent of women in Northern Ireland were able to confidently identify one of its symptoms. Despite this, the Health Minister has only committed to having ovarian cancer be part of an overall cancer campaign by his Department.
Mrs Long said the report made clear a specific campaign could allow much higher survival rates.
“A year ago, the Assembly unanimously voted for an ovarian cancer public awareness campaign but to date that pledge has not been met. I believe a specific drive would have a major impact, as ovarian cancer has a low survival rate for those who don’t receive an early diagnosis.
“Just recently, my Alliance colleague Chris Lyttle hosted well-renowned ovarian cancer campaigner Una Crudden in Stormont, where they called for such a drive in relation to the disease, and the building itself was lit up teal in recognition of Ovarian Cancer Month, so it is clear the public support is there.
“In response to a question I recently asked the Secretary of State for Health regarding what steps were being taken to improve detection rates of ovarian cancer, I was informed the Westminster Department of Health has several strategies, including giving clinical guidelines about best practice guidance on the detection, diagnosis and management of ovarian cancer. It is an approach our own Department of Health could learn from.”