21/Apr/2014 - Last News Update: 07:30

Call for action to detect ovarian cancer earlier

Category: England

Published: 27th Apr 2011 01:08:46

GPs should offer more blood tests to try to detect ovarian cancer earlier, according to new guidelines for the NHS.

Almost 7,000 UK women a year are diagnosed with the disease, but only about a third are still alive five years on.

NHS advisers want to see greater use of a blood test that measures a key protein, to improve early diagnosis.

Doctors and cancer charities have welcomed the guidelines.

They have been drawn up by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), which makes recommendations on medicines and procedures in the NHS.

Key symptoms are bloating, lower abdominal pain, feeling full after eating only a small amount, and needing to urinate with increased frequency.

A member of the guideline group, Sean Duffy, from the Yorkshire Cancer Network, said: "The symptoms can be vague, but shouldn't be ignored if they are persistent.

"By persistent, we mean them occurring more than 12 times a month.

Linda Facey was 43 and on holiday with her husband and two children when she began feeling unwell.

Seven weeks later, she was struggling to get out of bed.

She had a swollen stomach and was diagnosed with stage-three ovarian cancer.

Since her diagnosis in 2001, Mrs Facey has had four courses of chemotherapy and also pelvic radiotherapy.

She still has check-ups every six months - and urges any woman with symptoms suggesting ovarian cancer to see their GP.

Mrs Facey, from Gosport in Hampshire, said: "My waistline was persistently bigger - even within a week.

"I thought it was just changes to my body as I got older.

"I'm involved with a support group in Portsmouth and I still regularly meet women who are diagnosed too late."

"The vast majority of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed at a late stage, so we hope to see improvements in survival as a result of these guidelines.

"Sometimes doctors tell women they have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) - but NICE has already produced guidelines to say this is unusual as a new diagnosis in women over 50."

The test, which measures a protein called CA125, costs about £20.

NICE says more testing will not be more expensive for the NHS in the long run, because it will save some women from having inappropriate investigations.

The blood test detects cancer only about half of the time - but experts believe using it more often, as well as ultrasound scans where necessary, and encouraging women to be more aware of the symptoms, will improve the UK's "disappointing" survival rate for ovarian cancer.

A consultant gynaecological oncologist, Mr Charles Redman, said: "This strategy won't be the perfect answer, but we think it will make a measurable difference.

"Trying to encourage women who might have ovarian cancer to present earlier will undoubtedly give the NHS challenges and mean changes for hospital doctors like myself.

"But the current situation is very poor. Other countries do better than us."

Dr Clare Gerada, of the Royal College of GPs, said: "This is not about increasing GPs' workloads - it is about working as effectively as possible with the tools available to us, to achieve the best possible outcomes for women."

Target Ovarian Cancer's public affairs director, Frances Reid, said: "This guidance could save hundreds of lives.

"It is now imperative to include ovarian cancer in the Department of Health's cancer awareness campaigns, so that women know to go and ask for these tests."

Ovarian Cancer Action's chief executive, Gilda Witte, said: "Significant progress has been made in improving survival figures for ovarian cancer over the last 10 years, but there is a long way to go in beating the disease."

BBC News External Link Show Citation

Latest News

Harvard Citation

BBC News, 2011. Call for action to detect ovarian cancer earlier [Online] (Updated 27th Apr 2011)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/149124/Call-for-action-to-detect-ovarian-cancer-earlier [Accessed 21st Apr 2014]

News In Other Categories

  • Story of Joseph Heller's 'forgotten' Catch-22 script

    After Joseph Heller published his seminal war novel Catch-22 he adapted the book for the stage. He hoped it would go to Broadway - but more than 40 years on, his script has very rarely been performed. Now it is finally getting its UK premiere.
  • Japan's trade deficit quadruples in March

    Japan's trade deficit quadrupled in March as export growth slowed and energy imports continued to rise.
  • David Cameron risks 'alienation', public figures claim

    David Cameron could cause "alienation" with his comments about Christianity in the UK, public figures have warned.
  • Skin cancer rates 'surge since 1970s'

    The incidence of the most serious skin cancer in Great Britain is now five times higher than it was in the 1970s, figures show.
  • Netflix, Amazon and Sky chase blockbuster TV exclusives

    An upstart rapidly rises from obscurity to become a household name by distributing a highly addictive product consumed by thousands.
  • Bristol Academy extends reach overseas with first foreign students

    With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com