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Deadly delay: Many women waiting six months to hear results of ovarian tests

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
January 23rd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In a shocking new study, it has been learned that one in three women with ovarian cancer had to wait six months or more to be diagnosed after first seeing their doctor. Target Ovarian Cancer says that the delay in treatment for an often "silent killer" as it is difficult to diagnose may have fatal results.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Initial symptoms for ovarian cancer may include a distended abdomen and a sense of bloating. Thirty percent of these women are wrongly misdiagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, 15 percent ovarian cysts and 13 percent a urinary infection.

It's estimated that 500 lives a year could be saved through earlier diagnosis if the United Kingdom could match the best rates in Europe.

The charity's Pathfinder Study found that almost a third of women with the disease had to wait at least six months for a correct diagnosis.

More troubling is the fact that even when GPs suspect ovarian cancer, one in 10 doctors had the request for a diagnostic test refused by trusts or hospitals.

Female patients as well may take time to act, with one in four taking more than three months to visit their GP after first symptoms.

More than half took over a month, with one in 10 never consulting their GP about their complaints. The figures were revealed in a survey of doctors, nurses and patients.

About 4,400 women die annually from the disease, often because it is found only when it has spread to other parts of the body.

Married with three children, 60-year-old Esther Matthews of Kent, who is developed symptoms of bloating, abdominal pain and breathlessness in February of 2010.

Her doctor initially diagnosed a urinary infection and prescribed antibiotics, but when it didn't clear up it took weeks to get hospital tests.

"Misdiagnosis and delays meant seven frustrating months before I was finally diagnosed with ovarian cancer. It was a frightening and anxious time for me and my family.

"I was lucky, and am now free of cancer, but for many, the delay means their cancer has already spread, and treatment is difficult."

"We must improve symptom awareness with women, improve GP knowledge and ensure they have prompt access to diagnostic tests,' Annwen Jones, Chief Executive of Target Ovarian Cancer says. 

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