GPs miss symptoms of ovarian cancer, study suggests

A study suggests that women are dying needlessly because GPs are failing to spot the early signs of ovarian cancer.

New analysis of government statistics by Target Ovarian Cancer has shown a range of over 30 percentage points between the best and worst performing Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), with the worst (North East Essex) diagnosing just 29 per cent of ovarian cancers at stage one and two – considered “earlier” when the cancer is easier to treat, and where survival is greatest.

The best was 56 per cent in Thurrock. The national average was just 42 per cent.

7,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year in the UK, with the disease killing more than 4,000 – 57 per cent.

It can often be difficult to detect as many of the symptoms can be signs of more generic problems.

What are the symptoms?

  • Persistent bloating
  • Feeling full quickly / loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Needing to wee more urgently or often than usual
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Changes in bowl habits

1 in 5 women are too sick to treat by the time they get in front of a specialist. Target Ovarian Cancer believes that if more CCGs were able to reach the top performing levels, then thousands of lives would be saved.

Rebecca Rennison, Director of Public Affairs and Services at Target Ovarian Cancer, said:

“It would be truly transformative and would see thousands of lives saved. We look forward to working with the government and the NHS to make this vision a reality and to write the next chapter in the fight against ovarian.”


Text References

Donnelly, L. (2019). Women are having lives cut short because GPs miss symptoms of ovarian cancer, study suggests. Accessible: Last Accessed: 8 May 2019.

Gallagher, P. (2019). Ovarian cancer postcode lottery failing women across the country. Accessible: Last Accessed: 8 May 2019.