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Essay prize 2023 winners

We're delighted to announce the winners of our annual essay prize competition. 

We're delighted to announce the winners of our annual essay prize competition. 

The Target Ovarian Cancer essay prize is an annual competition open to undergraduate UK medical students. It is supported by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and is an opportunity for students with a special interest in the disease to take a deep dive into ovarian cancer research and address the challenges around early diagnosis of ovarian cancer.  

This year, the three winners each addressed a different question around ovarian cancer diagnosis and treatment, from safety netting to challenges around diagnostic testing, to how to address the barriers facing women in South Asian communities The standard was extremely high, and after much deliberation by the judges, all of whom are practising clinicians, prizes were awarded to the following students: 

  1. Melissa Begue, Year 5 student, the University of Nottingham: ‘What actions can GPs take to safety net patients who may need further tests for ovarian cancer? ‘ 

  1. Mariam Idrissi, Year 3 student, the University of Birmingham: ‘What are the factors that might act as facilitators or barriers to symptomatic women undergoing tests for possible ovarian cancer?’ 

  1. Zoe Arowojolu, Year 5 student, Imperial College London: ‘What are the barriers to ovarian cancer diagnosis and treatment in South Asian communities, and how can they be addressed?’ 

First Prize winner, Melissa Begue, said:

I've always enjoyed writing and I genuinely enjoyed taking a deep dive into a new subject of choice, for pleasure, rather than for a reason related to my studies or a grade. Rather than the focusing on the anatomy or pathophysiology, I learnt about practical aspects of diagnosis, patient factors and communication. Similar to all of the future clinicians who entered the Target Ovarian Cancer essay prize, the knowledge we will take with us will no doubt aid our practice in the future.

Second Prize winner, Mariam Idrissi, added:

I'm particularly interested in what barriers women face when seeking diagnosis and treatment for lots of different conditions. I grew up in communities where there are many social barriers that lead to delayed diagnosis and treatment in women, and I thought this essay would give me the opportunity to explore this topic in more depth, specifically in the context of ovarian cancer. My knowledge has been expanded by entering this competition. I now have a deeper understanding of why some patients may choose to seek medical attention and why some may not. I hope that in clinical placements and as a doctor in the future, this knowledge will help me to consult with patients in a more sensitive manner and with more empathy and compassion.

Third Prize winner, Zoe Arowojolu, commented:

Entering this competition has deepened my knowledge of the presentation of ovarian cancer, and therefore heightened my clinical suspicion when engaging with patients. In addition to this, I've been able to explore the real stories and experiences of those who have navigated the journey of diagnosis to treatment of ovarian cancer. Conversations with community members and further research into the cultural and systemic hurdles they face has provided me with a deeper, more empathetic understanding of the patient experience, which is I believe will be invaluable in my future practice.

Professor Debbie Sharp OBE, Chair of the Target Ovarian Cancer essay prize, said:

The Target Ovarian Cancer essay prize is an excellent opportunity for clinicians of the future to take a deep dive into ovarian cancer, thereby expanding their knowledge of how to diagnose symptoms as early as possible to ensure that more women enter the correct diagnostic pathway sooner, saving more lives.