UK waiting times for ovarian cancer diagnosis failing women compared to other countries, charity warns

Only 30 per cent of women receive diagnosis within one month compared to 43 per cent globally

Jennifer Cockerell
Thursday 18 October 2018 15:16 BST
The facts about Ovarian Cancer

Women in the UK are being failed when it comes to diagnosing ovarian cancer in comparison with other countries, a charity has warned.

Target Ovarian Cancer said UK women were waiting longer than average for a diagnosis – 30 per cent were diagnosed within a month compared with 43 per cent globally – while two-thirds (66 per cent) were diagnosed once the cancer had already spread.

The figures come from the World Ovarian Cancer Coalition's Every Woman Study – the largest ever global review of the experiences of more than 1,500 women with ovarian cancer from 44 countries.

Worldwide ovarian cancer incidence is rising and is expected to increase by 55 per cent by 2035.

It is expected to go up by 15 per cent in the UK, from around 7,300 cases a year currently to around 10,500 a year by 2035.

Previous research by Target Ovarian Cancer found nearly half (46 per cent) of women with the disease were initially referred for tests for something other than ovarian cancer, meaning they risked delays while waiting for test results and further referrals if tests for other conditions came back negative.

The charity said raising awareness among GPs and women would ensure earlier diagnosis of ovarian cancer and it wanted to see the Government fund a campaign to increase knowledge of its symptoms.

When a woman is diagnosed at the earliest stage, her chance of surviving ovarian cancer for five years or more doubles.

It also suggested that as with breast cancer, measures are brought in to speed up diagnostic testing so more women get an early diagnosis.

Annwen Jones, Target Ovarian Cancer chief executive and co-chairwoman 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.

"Theresa May has made a personal commitment to see more cancers diagnosed sooner and this report 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."

Sue Rizzello, 53, from Berkshire, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012.

She said: "I had never heard of ovarian cancer or the symptoms before I was diagnosed.

"I experienced fatigue and bloating, but passed it off to over-working and putting on some weight.

"The GP said the bloating definitely wasn't fluid, but when the symptoms continued I kept going back and luckily a locum GP sent me for a CA125 blood test.

"I was diagnosed with stage IIIc advanced ovarian cancer.”

She added: "We need to act now so that more women know the symptoms of this disease and especially so that the system is set up to give more of us a fighting chance at an all-important early diagnosis."

Common symptoms of ovarian cancer include persistent bloating, feeling full quickly and/or loss of appetite, pelvic or abdominal pain, and urinary symptoms such as needing to wee more urgently or more often than usual.

Other less common signs include changes in bowel habit such as diarrhoea or constipation, extreme fatigue and unexplained weight loss.

Press Association

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