“Women With Ovarian Cancer Are Still Being Failed”


"It can be hard to find your voice and ask for support, I was well enough to find it but not everyone is”

-Mags McCaul


A Lanarkshire woman with ovarian cancer has been praised for making a ‘powerful’ speech at the Scottish Parliament where she highlighted the plight of patients forced to use their life savings to pay for lifesaving surgery.

Mags McCaul (50) was a keynote speaker at a Target Ovarian Cancer parliamentary reception sponsored by Monica Lennon, Scottish Labour and Co-op MSP for Central Scotland.

The event marked the release of the charities latest research which shockingly revealed four in ten women in Scotland are waiting more than three months for an ovarian cancer diagnosis.

Mags McCaul, 50 from North Lanarkshire, is more familiar with the lack of progress in ovarian cancer in Scotland. 

Diagnosed just last August after experiencing bloating and abdominal pain, Mags was given a stage 3c high-grade serous ovarian cancer diagnosis. After completing four sessions of chemotherapy she was suitable for surgery however faced a 12 week wait. Mags used her life-savings to fund the surgery and flew to England – as private surgery was unavailable in Scotland. Following her surgery and further chemotherapy, Mags has been told there is no evidence of disease however lives with anxiety of recurrence.


Monica commented:

“I commend Mags for bravely sharing her experience and bringing light to this public health disaster. Unfortunately, it appears to be an all-too-common experience for patients to make their way across the border for treatment or pay to go private.

“It is alarming that women like Mags are being kept in the dark when it comes to accessing lifesaving surgery. Recent Public Health statistics have confirmed that there are unacceptable geographical variations in surgical treatment making this a sinister postcode lottery.


“It is clear from the brilliant work done by Target Ovarian Cancer and the insightful discussions at our event this week, that far more needs to be done.

“This week, I have asked the Scottish Government it's reaction to the recent statistics, I look forward to their response and will be continuing to push for much-needed improvements in this area to ensure equitable healthcare for women across Scotland”

Mags wants to see improvements made in Scotland so no woman is left behind. She said:

“There are a number of things that the Scottish government need to address when it comes to ovarian cancer. Access to surgery is an unacceptable issue that affects the overall landscape of care that’s being provided in Scotland. This needs to change. If my husband and I hadn’t used our life-savings, I would have only just had my surgery. It’s a scary thought.

“Another is support for women who have ovarian cancer. Women need to have access to support and a choice to take it or leave it and I think it would be great if there was an automated referral process from the GP or secondary care team. It can be hard to find your voice and ask for support, I was well enough to find it but not everyone is.”


Ovarian cancer affects around 600 women in Scotland every year but recent Public Health Scotland data shows that there is unacceptable geographical variation in lifesaving treatment.  


Monica Lennon is an MSP for the Central Scotland Region. In 2021, she passed the ground-breaking Period Product (Scotland) Act. Follow her on Twitter for recent updates.