The coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on the diagnosis and treatment of ovarian cancer and the support available to women living with the disease.
In our latest report, ‘Voices of women with ovarian cancer: the coronavirus pandemic and its impact’ [PDF], we heard from many women worried about contacting their GP with symptoms, who had their treatment disrupted, and were coping with the mental and emotional impact of being advised to shield.
Amy completed a round of chemotherapy just before lockdown was announced. She had been due to meet with her doctor to discuss the next steps in her treatment, but the meeting had to be cancelled. She said:
It felt like I was in limbo. I didn’t know what was coming next. I couldn't go into the hospital because it was too risky. I was left not knowing if I needed further treatment at this time, when it was going to start again, or even if it was going to start again.
What needs to change?
We're calling on UK governments to take urgent action to ensure diagnosis, treatment and support are returned to pre-pandemic levels as quickly as possible:
- We need a diagnostic recovery plan which includes an awareness campaign to encourage those with ovarian cancer symptoms to contact their GP. We also need a shorter diagnostic pathway in England, Wales and Northern Ireland with a CA125 blood test and ultrasound carried out at the same time.
- Treatment for ovarian cancer must restart as quickly and safely as possible, and protected treatment sites must be set up where surgery in particular can continue in the event of a second wave.
- Recovery plans should have a focus on support services, particularly psychological support, so that every woman with ovarian cancer has access to the best care.
How can you get involved?
Earlier this year, many of you called on governments across the UK to act on early diagnosis as part of our It's time to TAKE OVAR campaign. Now it's more important than ever that early diagnosis remains on the agenda. We're asking you to email your elected representative to raise awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer, and encourage women to visit their GP if they think something is wrong.
It'll only take a few minutes and will save lives:
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