OVER 300 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer in Wales each year and survival rates are among the worst in Europe. Women are being failed, charity Target Ovarian Cancer says, and this must change.
In its latest state-of-the-nation report, Pathfinder Wales: Faster, further, and fairer, Target Ovarian Cancer’s research shows:
- Just over a quarter of women in Wales know that bloating is one of the key symptoms of ovarian cancer. Concerningly, it found that there was less awareness around the symptom of feeling full compared to the previous study in 2016. Just 3% of those surveyed knew this symptom.
- A quarter of women with ovarian cancer reported visiting their GP three or more times before being referred for tests and a third reported waiting more than three months from their first appointment with their GP to receiving their diagnosis.
- Over a quarter of women felt they were not given enough time to discuss their diagnosis and 55% of those surveyed reported feeling isolated since their diagnosis.
The report concludes that progress is possible if urgent action is taken now. It reveals that if diagnosis was faster, further support was available and access to treatment was fairer, there could be potential for more women to survive, live well with ovarian cancer and be supported from diagnosis and throughout treatment.
Annwen Jones OBE, Chief Executive of Target Ovarian Cancer, said: “We have seen welcome improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of ovarian cancer in Wales, such as the establishment of a single cancer pathway in Wales for gynaecological cancers but our report shows there’s still much more to be done.
“Ovarian cancer must become a health priority for progress to be made. It is unacceptable that awareness of symptoms is still so low and that women do not feel they are given sufficient time to discuss their devastating diagnosis with healthcare professionals. Everyone diagnosed with ovarian cancer deserves to be heard, have the best possible chance of living well and surviving. For this to happen it is imperative to invest in awareness campaigns, research, diagnosis, and support. We can change the course of this disease.”
Target Ovarian Cancer is pushing forward these changes. The charity recently launched an Early Diagnosis Network aimed at healthcare professionals dedicated to introducing diagnostic interventions to speed up diagnosis. The charity also runs a GP educational programme, to assist GPs with awareness of ovarian cancer.
GP Dr Elise Lang, a member of the Target Ovarian Cancer Primary Care Advisory Board, said: “Healthcare professionals working in general practice are under significant pressure and we are working hard to try to meet the needs of every patient. The interventions that Target Ovarian Cancer have made available are a promising start to try to improve early diagnosis of ovarian cancer, but there remains an urgent, wider need for investment to support healthcare professionals. With better resource primary care can improve investments in practice education and developments to better support our patients receiving cancer diagnoses or going through treatment to access support in a timely manner.”
Target Ovarian Cancer is calling for a combination of national symptoms awareness campaigns and more training and support for GPs, which will lead to earlier diagnosis of ovarian cancer; access for all to treatment including an investment in research; and widespread improvements in support.
Target Ovarian Cancer targets what’s important to stop ovarian cancer devastating lives. To find out more about the charity or access its support line visit www.targetovariancancer.org.uk