Essential improvements in diagnosing ovarian cancer to help save the lives of thousands of women each year are urgently needed, insisted a Manchester MP today.
Shadow health minister Andrew Gwynne, Labour MP for Denton and Reddish, joined charity volunteers from Ovacome to drive awareness about the cancer up and identify areas where progression is most needed.
As the fifth most common cancer among women in the UK, and one of the hardest cancers to detect, more effort is required by policy makers and those within the NHS to improve the care and support available to patients.
One of the key priorities remains increasing awareness and understanding of the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer amongst women and clinicians to help tackle late diagnosis.
Mr Gwynne said: “This is a campaign that I feel very passionately as I lost my mother to ovarian cancer in 1994.
“Patients should be able to receive the standards of care delivered by the best performing hospitals, regardless of where they live.
“I am supporting Ovacome’s campaign to secure better outcomes for women with this disease.”
Some of the key research findings have highlighted numerous problems that must be addressed including reducing the 37% of ovarian cancer patients who had to see their GP more than twice about their symptoms before being referred for diagnostic tests.
Almost 30% of ovarian cancer patients in England were diagnosed following an emergency admission to hospital and one in three women with ovarian cancer felt that their views were not taken into account by doctors and nurses discussing treatment.
As well as early diagnosis and effective care and support, access to effective treatments can also play an important role in improving outcomes for women with ovarian cancer.
With a number of new treatments becoming available for ovarian cancer which can extend survival for patients whose ilness has already spread, the introduction of the Cancer Drugs Fund been a welcome development.
Louise Bayne, chief executive of Ovacome, said: “While there are currently high quality ovarian cancer services available in some areas of the country, not all patients are getting this level of care currently able to access the high quality services and support they rely on.
“Accurate and up-to-date data is vital to driving improvements in standards.
“That is why Ovacome has developed quality profiles to highlight good practice and establish a benchmark on which to measure progress – in the same way, we want government to support the development of quality metrics so that the NHS starts to prioritise the outcomes which matter most to women with ovarian cancer.”