Medical delay reduces many women's lives
The lives of women with ovarian cancer are being cut short because of delays to their diagnoses, claims a new report.
Figures for Avon and Somerset show that 236 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year.
A report published as part of Target Ovarian Cancer's Pathfinder Study highlights a lack of understanding of symptoms by both patients and their GPs.
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Women diagnosed earlier with ovarian cancer have a 92 per cent chance of being alive five years on. In the UK the chances of being alive five years on are just 36 per cent – among the worst in Europe.
Experts believe 500 lives a year could be saved through earlier diagnosis if the UK could match the best rates in Europe. The findings on delays are published as part of the report, which was launched at the House of Commons yesterday .
It finds women are unaware what symptoms to look for and when they do visit their GP they still faced problems getting a correct diagnosis.
It found that one in four women diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the last five years took more than three months to visit their GP after they began experiencing symptoms. And over half took more than a month.
Once at their GP, the report claims, for almost a third of women diagnosis was more than six months after they first went to see their doctor.
The report found that misdiagnosis is common, with 30 per cent of women misdiagnosed as having Irritable Bowel Syndrome; 15 per cent with ovarian cysts and 13 per cent told they had a urinary infection. To further increase delays, one in ten GPs had diagnostic tests refused in the past year, the study says.
The Pathfinder Study also surveyed health professionals, with 55 per cent of clinicians believing that tackling earlier diagnosis is the most urgent issue to ensure women in the UK have as good a chance of surviving ovarian cancer as women in other countries.
Annwen Jones, chief executive of Target Ovarian Cancer, said: "Early diagnosis is key. 32 per cent of women are diagnosed in A&E and 75 per cent are diagnosed once the cancer has spread. This is unacceptable.
"We must improve symptom awareness with women, improve GP knowledge and ensure they have prompt access to diagnostic tests.
"It is imperative the Be Clear on Cancer awareness campaign is extended across England and that other home nations take similar action to stop women needlessly dying."