Outstanding contributions to gynaecological cancer care acknowledged

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Cancer Australia today presented the 2017 Jeannie Ferris Cancer Australia Recognition Award to two people in recognition of their outstanding contribution to improving outcomes for women with gynaecological cancer*.

Dr Helen Zorbas, CEO, Cancer Australia and Jeremy Ferris, son of the late Senator Jeannie Ferris, presented the Award to the recipients Ms Paula Benson and Professor Andreas Obermair at a ceremony in Sydney.

“Gynaecological cancer has a significant impact on our community. Each day in Australia, 17 women will be diagnosed and 5 women will lose their lives to gynaecological cancer,” Dr Zorbas said.

“While this is a harsh reality for women with gynaecological cancer, there are many people who are working to help improve information, support, care and outcomes for those affected – and this award is one way to recognise these important contributions.”

“I am delighted to announce the two worthy recipients of the 2017 Jeannie Ferris Cancer Australia Recognition Award which recognises exceptional leadership in two categories: those with a personal experience of gynaecological cancer or as a carer (consumer); and health professionals or researchers working in gynaecological cancer,” said Dr Zorbas.

Cancer Australia presented the award in the consumer category to Paula Benson for her commitment for over a decade to supporting women with ovarian cancer, the most common cause of death from gynaecological cancer.

As Chair of Ovarian Cancer Australia, Paula led the expansion of the organisation’s remit from support and awareness to incorporate advocacy and research, and guided the development and implementation of the National Action Plan for Ovarian Cancer Research.

An ovarian cancer survivor herself, Paula has combined the insights gained from her own diagnosis of ovarian cancer as a young woman with her personal and professional experience, to drive and influence better outcomes for women with gynaecological cancer.

Professor Andreas Obermair is the successful recipient of the health professionals and researchers award. He is a highly regarded gynaecological oncologist and educator, and has made a significant and ongoing contribution to medical research in the field of gynaecological cancer.

Since 2003 Professor Obermair has led the research program for the Queensland Centre for Gynaecological Cancer to produce high-level evidence to inform gynaecological cancer treatment methods. He has championed innovative treatment approaches for endometrial cancer that are as minimally invasive as possible.

Professor Obermair has developed teaching resources and videos to assist health professionals, and educational materials and videos for patients to help them better understand the signs and symptoms of gynaecological cancer.

“The efforts and achievements of Professor Obermair and Paula Benson have made an invaluable contribution to better outcomes through improved gynaecological cancer awareness, support, treatment and research,” Dr Zorbas said.

*Gynaecological cancer is an overarching term used to describe cancer of the ovaries, uterus, cervix, vagina and vulva, as well as the fallopian tube and placenta (a pregnancy-related cancer).

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Established in 2013, the Jeannie Ferris Cancer Australia Recognition Award is named in honour of the late Jeannie Ferris, Senator for South Australia, who was passionately committed to raising awareness about gynaecological cancer.  Senator Ferris was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in October 2005 and passed away in April 2007.

Cancer Australia was established by the Australian Government in 2006 to benefit all Australians affected by cancer, and their families and carers. Cancer Australia aims to reduce the impact of cancer, address disparities and improve outcomes for people affected by cancer by leading and coordinating national, evidence-based interventions across the continuum of care.