One in seven women die of ovarian cancer within two months of diagnosis, audit reveals

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Ovarian cancer postcode lottery laid bare: Shock audit shows women living in poorest parts of England are up to 50% more likely to die within 2 months of being diagnosed

  • 16.2% of the poorest fifth die with 2 months of an ovarian cancer diagnosis 
  • 12% of women living in the richest areas of England die in the same timeframe 
  • NHS report claims the difference in survival could be down to access to GPs 

The most deprived women in England are 50 per cent more likely to die of ovarian cancer within two months of a diagnosis than the richest, NHS data revealed today.

Overall, one in seven women lose their lives to the disease just two months after they are found to have it.

But closer to one in six (16.2 per cent) of women living in the the poorest fifth of the country die within that period, the national audit showed.

This compares to one in eight (12 per cent) of women who are in the richest fifth of postcodes.

Only two thirds of the poorest quintile go on to live for a year or more after their diagnosis, compared to 71.4 per cent of the richest.

Poorer women may have lower survival rates because they have worse access to GPs who can spot their tell-tale symptoms, the report suggested. 

Cancer charities condemned the ‘survival lottery’, adding: ‘It isn’t right that anyone’s survival depends on where they live.’

The findings come after a damning report by MPs found Britain is making inadequate progress on its targets for all types of cancers.

Experts advising the Health and Social Care Committee ruled the Government is failing to meet its targets to boost the NHS workforce, speed up diagnoses and give all patients access to personalised care.

One in six (16.2 per cent) of women living in the the poorest fifth of the country die within two months of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer, NHS data shows. This compares to one in eight (12 per cent) of women who are in the richest fifth of postcodes

One in six (16.2 per cent) of women living in the the poorest fifth of the country die within two months of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer, NHS data shows. This compares to one in eight (12 per cent) of women who are in the richest fifth of postcodes

The Ovarian Cancer Audit Feasibility Pilot also showed women who are not diagnosed by their local doctor are most likely to die within two months. Some 30.8 per cent of women who are diagnosed at A&E die in that time frame. In comparison, only 4.7 per cent of those seen by a GP and urgently referred to a specialist within two weeks — a system set up in 2000 with the aim of speeding up diagnoses — lost their lives within two months.

The Ovarian Cancer Audit Feasibility Pilot also showed women who are not diagnosed by their local doctor are most likely to die within two months. Some 30.8 per cent of women who are diagnosed at A&E die in that time frame. In comparison, only 4.7 per cent of those seen by a GP and urgently referred to a specialist within two weeks — a system set up in 2000 with the aim of speeding up diagnoses — lost their lives within two months.

Government making inadequate progress to improve cancer survival rates, damning report warns 

Britain is making ‘inadequate’ progress towards its fight to improve cancer services, a damning report by MPs concluded today. 

Experts advising the Health and Social Care Committee examined pledges that the Government had made to improve cancer outcomes for patients.

They ruled the Government is failing to meet its targets to boost the NHS workforce, speed up diagnoses and give all patients access to personalised care.

Staffing issues were underpinning a lack of progress towards the vital goals, which include diagnosing patients who have been referred within 28 days.  

Professor Dame Jane Dacre, chair of the expert panel and ex-president of the Royal College of Physicians, said cancer services are ‘facing overwhelming pressure’.

Cary Wakefield, chief executive of Ovarian Cancer Action, said: ‘This report is unequivocal on the survival lottery that women diagnosed with ovarian cancer face. 

‘It isn’t right that anyone’s survival depends on where they live, particularly when the evidence is in plain sight. 

‘We can’t keep ignoring this and, working with the NHS, there is much more that can and should be done.’

The Ovarian Cancer Audit Feasibility Pilot also showed women who are not diagnosed by their local doctor are most likely to die within two months.

Some 30.8 per cent of women who are diagnosed at A&E die in that time frame.

The disease is likely to have spread too far to be treated effectively by that point if they have to go to emergency services because of symptoms, the report claimed.

In comparison, only 4.7 per cent of those seen by a GP and urgently referred to a specialist within two weeks — a system set up in 2000 with the aim of speeding up diagnoses — lost their lives within two months. 

Ovarian cancer kills around a third of women in the first year after diagnosis and is often diagnosed in the late stages.

There are around 7,500 new ovarian cancer cases in the UK every year.

Professor Sudha Sundar, president of the British Gynaecological Cancer Society, said: ‘We’ve made a lot of progress but this data shows we need to do more. 

‘At the BGCS we’re committed to supporting the NHS to drive the best outcomes for everyone diagnosed with ovarian cancer. 

‘It’s clear we have a long way to go and significant issues to tackle.’

Alexandra Holden, deputy chief executive of Target Ovarian Cancer, said: ‘This report reveals the scandal of over 750 women dying within two months of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year. 

‘We stand together to condemn this in the strongest of terms, and we must now speed up progress in awareness, diagnosis and care. 

‘Today’s report shows us just how many lives are at stake if we do not take action now.’ 

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF OVARIAN CANCER?

The symptoms of ovarian cancer can be difficult to recognise, particularly early on.

They’re often the same as symptoms of less serious conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS). 

The most common symptoms of ovarian cancer are:

  • Feeling constantly bloated
  • A swollen tummy
  • Discomfort in your tummy or pelvic area
  • Feeling full quickly when eating, or loss of appetite
  • Needing to pee more often or more urgently than normal

Other symptoms can include:

  • Persistent indigestion or nausea
  • Pain during sex
  • A change in your bowel habits
  • Back pain
  • Vaginal bleeding – particularly bleeding after the menopause
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Unintentional weight loss

When to see your GP

See your GP if:

  • You’ve been feeling bloated most days for the last three weeks
  • You have other symptoms of ovarian cancer that won’t go away – especially if you’re over 50 or have a family history of ovarian or breast cancer, as you may be at a higher risk

It’s unlikely you have cancer, but it’s best to check. Your GP can do some simple tests. 

Source: NHS Choices 

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