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Charity, Patient or Professional Association of the Year

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Ovarian Cancer Action (OCA)

Summary of work

Ovarian Cancer Action (OCA)

Around 175,000 people in the UK are estimated to carry a BRCA gene mutation, which increases their chance of getting certain cancers, including ovarian, breast, prostate and pancreatic cancers. For many families, this inherited genetic fault means generations plagued by cancer or having to face the loss of loved ones to a horrific disease.

The general population has a 1 in 400 to 1 in 800 chance of having a BRCA gene mutation and men are just as likely to be carriers as women. In people of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage, this increases to 1 in 40 – ie they are ten times as likely to carry a BRCA mutation.

Ovarian cancer is the sixth most common cancer in UK women, yet nine out of every ten of women do not know the four main symptoms of the disease. It is widely perceived as an older woman’s disease but it can affect a woman at any age.

Early diagnosis is vital; women diagnosed at stage 1 have a 90% chance of survival, which drops dramatically to just 4% at stage 4. Whilst there is no screening tool for the disease and no Government awareness campaign, spreading symptom awareness is how we can arm women with the best chance of survival. Perceptions around the disease must change and we must find new ways to reach women of all ages, as previous efforts have not made a significant difference in the number of women aware and on the lookout for symptoms.

A simple blood test can identify these mutations and that knowledge gives those with a high risk the option to have more frequent screenings, meaning the cancer could be caught earlier, leading to a greater chance of

survival. They may also make informed lifestyle choices to reduce their risk or undergo preventive surgery before cancer strikes, to minimise the odds of developing it in the first place. And there are even opportunities to avoid passing on the risk to future generations, by going through embryo testing. For those already with a cancer diagnosis, knowing their genetic status can affect their treatment pathway – specifically targeted treatment and tailored clinical trials may be available, based on whether they are a mutation carrier or not.

Ovarian cancer in particular is a complex disease which is often difficult to diagnose and treat. Around 7,300 new cases are diagnosed in the UK each year and a woman dies of ovarian cancer every two hours. Ovarian cancer has one of the worst survival rates in Europe and even after successful treatment, it has a very high rate of recurrence, with the disease recurring in 70-90% of cases.

Approximately 15-20% of ovarian cancer cases are caused as a result of inherited mutations, but with no national screening programme and one of the worst survival rates in Europe, prevention of ovarian cancer in the first place is preferable to cure. Women with a BRCA1 mutation may have up to a 60% lifetime risk of developing ovarian cancer, while those with a faulty BRCA2 gene are estimated to have up to a 20% risk. Preventative options such as risk-reducing surgery and increased surveillance could prevent a potential 1,000 cases per year.

It’s thought around 5-10% of all breast, prostate and pancreatic cancers are linked to a BRCA gene mutation, and though many cancers are not hereditary, for those who do carry a mutation, the impact can be devastating: For example, women with a faulty BRCA1 gene may have up to an 85% lifetime risk of breast cancer, and men with the BRCA2 mutation can have up to a one in four chance of developing prostate cancer.

Ovarian Cancer Action delivered an innovative campaign raising symptom awareness with its World Ovarian Cancer Day Campaign last year. The charity came up with a low cost, high impact way of reaching a new, younger demographic on digital channels as well as on the street that delivered tangible results

Judges' comments

This was a stand-out winner, because it was a strong, simple, but really hard-working campaign. It was innovative because OCA used influencers to spread the message, but in a very targeted way and the NHS adopted their tool, so it had an immediate impact for patients. This was the one that the judges remember!

Highly commended

Category Sponsors

Jon Pike, Mearns & Pike - Communiqué 2020 winner

Key dates

Entry deadline 11 March 2022
Extended entry deadline 18 March 2022
(additional fee applies)
Judging days May 2022
Awards Ceremony 7th July 2022

Contact information:

For sponsorship opportunities:
Sales Team
Tel: +44 (0)1372 414200

General event enquiries:
Debbie Tuesley
Tel: +44 (0)1372 414243

Entry and dinner booking enquiries:
Saoirse Meenaghan
Tel: 01372 414253