Close up of a woman holding an open Target Ovarian Cancer information leaflet

Early diagnosis - what are we doing?

Our report earlier today found that as many as one in every five women (20 per cent) in England is too ill to treat by the time they receive their ovarian cancer diagnosis. We talk through the ways we work to reach medical professionals with ovarian cancer education.

Our Head of Primary Care Development, Sharon Tate, says:

Late diagnosis is a complex problem that needs an innovative, multipronged approach if we are to improve the outlook for women with ovarian cancer. Educating GPs and GP practice nurses is an essential part of solving this tricky puzzle.

Target Ovarian Cancer has educated over half of GPs through our online learning modules and face-to-face seminar sessions. Our aim in every interaction is to empower primary care professionals with the knowledge to diagnose ovarian cancer sooner, ensuring more women receive an early diagnosis, and can access treatment at the earliest opportunity.

Northamptonshire GP Dr Victoria Barber is the face of our seminar sessions, which leaves attendees with improved knowledge of symptoms and the confidence to refer women for tests such as CA125 and ultrasound scans.

Working together to make a change

We are confident that our work to educate GPs and GP nurses is essential if we are to get women on the right diagnostic pathway sooner. This year we have partnered with leading organisations including BMJ Learning, MIMS Learning Live and NENE CCG to bring the best in ovarian cancer education to even more primary care professionals.

Dr Alison Wint is one of the faces of our ‘It’s time to TAKE OVAR’ campaign, and is passionate about raising awareness of cancer symptoms. “Target Ovarian Cancer’s training helps translate guidance into practice, helping clinicians become more aware of the symptoms and the existing diagnostic tests. It’s hugely positive that so many people are hard at work on earlier diagnosis of ovarian cancer. We need to work together to raise awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer across the UK.”

Future of ovarian cancer diagnosis

In some parts of the country, new multi-disciplinary diagnostic services (MDS) for vague or unclear symptoms give GPs an extra option when they suspect that a patient has cancer. The GP can refer patients to these services which will initiate a battery of tests to rule out or diagnose a variety of cancers. The new services are still in the pilot phase but we hope they will be rolled out in the future if successful. The evidence may be in its early stages, but it is clear that this approach is an effective way of ensuring no cancer diagnosis is missed. You can read more about our role in developing these services in our news story.

We are also aware that there is still much to learn from other countries. Findings published earlier this year in The Every Woman Study show that countries including Germany and Japan lead the way in diagnosing ovarian cancer quickly.

Today’s new report brings home the devastating consequences of a late diagnosis of ovarian cancer. By continuing to deliver on GP education and eliminating delays to diagnosis, we can ensure that no woman is denied the opportunity of life-saving treatment.