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Celebrities support women's hidden cancer month

Media Release

For release September 4, 2008

Comedians and Celebrities support women's hidden cancer this September

September is internationally recognised as Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month and is a major event on the calendar of the newly founded New Zealand charity, the Silver Ribbon Foundation.

Gynaecological cancer is a very real issue for many kiwi women and their families, with 864 new cases diagnosed each year. However, there is a worrying lack of understanding among the public about the seriousness of this issue, says Rachel Coates, co- founder of the foundation.

"We lose one New Zealand woman about every 24 hours to gynaecological cancer, which includes ovarian, uterine, cervical and vulval cancer. Unfortunately, a major reason for this is that many symptoms go unreported, and the existing pap smear test screening is designed to detect a risk of cervical cancer only – a fact that is unknown to most New Zealand women" she said.

To mark Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month, Silver Ribbon will be hosting a 'comedy & cocktails' evening at Auckland's Gus Fisher Gallery on Thursday 25th September. The event will feature local female comedians and celebrities and provide a unique opportunity to celebrate woman and encourage open discussion.

Silver Ribbon hopes to heighten awareness of these conditions and in doing so, help New Zealand women to know the signs that may lead to an early diagnosis.

A number of other exciting events will be happening internationally during the awareness month. A major UK based charity is encouraging women to "make time for tea" by calling on them to host a tea party with friends all in the name of raising awareness of ovarian cancer.

The gynaecological cancer cause has also found support from a number of well-known celebrities. After losing her mother to ovarian cancer last year, Angelina Jolie has recently joined with Fran Drescher (The Nanny), a survivor of uterine cancer, with the aim of achieving early diagnoses for all women's cancers.

About Silver Ribbon:

The Silver Ribbon Foundation is a registered New Zealand charity that was established as a family initiative in 2006 to provide a gateway to knowledge, support and vital research to those affected by the disease.

It was co-founded by sisters Rachel Coates and Jackie Whiting, after the passing of their mother Leonie of ovarian cancer in 2006.

About Gynaecological Cancer:

There are four main types of gynaecological cancer, all with differing symptoms:

o Ovarian cancer - 312 new cases diagnosed and 173 deaths each year
o
o Cervical cancer - 180 new cases diagnosed and 65 deaths each year
o
o Uterine (endometrial) cancer - 314 new cases diagnosed and 78 deaths each year
o
o Vulval cancer - 42 new cases diagnosed and 12 deaths each year
o

Of particular concern to Silver Ribbon is ovarian cancer. Because it is very hard to detect (the symptoms are vague, and there is no screening test for ovarian cancer) and often diagnosed late, the chances of survival are heavily reduced. As a result, 80% of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer will die within 5 years.

- Ends -


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