Today sees the release of a global study from the World Ovarian Cancer Coalition. Among other things, it shows that women in the UK are being failed when it comes to early diagnosis of ovarian cancer in comparison with other countries.
The World Ovarian Cancer Coalition’s Every Woman Study is the largest ever global review of the experiences of over 1,500 women with ovarian cancer from 44 countries. The study has found that across the world, two thirds of women had never heard of ovarian cancer or did not know anything about it before their diagnosis. The study also shows that UK women are waiting longer for a diagnosis – only 30 per cent are diagnosed within a month compared with 43 per cent globally.
Target Ovarian Cancer is campaigning for the changes needed to make early diagnosis a reality for women with ovarian cancer in the UK. They want to see:
- A government-funded symptoms awareness campaign
- Following the lead set by breast cancer, measures to speed up diagnostic testing so that more women get an early diagnosis
- A full roll-out of the government’s pilot multidisciplinary diagnostic services – ‘one stop shops’ to ensure no diagnosis is missed.
Annwen Jones, Chief Executive of Target Ovarian Cancer and Co-Chair of The Every Woman Study said: “Today’s Every Woman Study shows how the UK trails the rest of the world in diagnosing ovarian cancer early. The Every Woman Study shows how much more needs to be done to make that goal a reality. These measures could save lives, and women simply cannot wait any longer.”
Dr Richard Roope, Clinical Lead for Cancer at the Royal College of GPs, responded to news that women in the UK are now waiting longer than average for a diagnosis of ovarian cancer. He said: “GPs want to do the best for all their patients and are well aware of the link between early diagnosis and improved survival rates for cancer.
“Easy access to the right diagnostic tools is central to increasing the rate of diagnosis and treatment in the UK, but at the moment, our access to these resources is among the lowest in Europe, which is simply unacceptable.
“As is the case with many patients, cancer can present itself in many non-specific and vague ways. Ovarian cancer in the earliest stages can cause symptoms such as back pain, fatigue and bloating, and look more like other conditions including pre-menstrual syndrome.
“NHS England has already introduced a pilot for ‘one stop’ cancer clinics, but we ultimately need more resources and more GPs in the community so that we can continue to deliver the best possible care to all of our patients, including those who we suspect of having cancer.”