Specialist Lawyer Says Education Is Key To Improve Ovarian Cancer Survival Rates

Medical Law Experts Respond To Survey Into ‘Silent Killer’


Medical law experts at Irwin Mitchell have called for increased training for GPs on how to spot the signs of ovarian cancer after a study revealed one in three women with the disease had to wait six months or more to be diagnosed after first seeing their doctor.

The survey by Target Ovarian Cancer of doctors, nurses and patients, estimated that 500 lives a year could be saved through earlier diagnosis if the UK 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 and misdiagnosis is common, with 30 per cent of women wrongly thought to have irritable bowel syndrome, 15 per cent ovarian cysts and 13 per cent a urinary infection.

It also revealed one in four women took more than three months to visit their GP after first symptoms, with one in 10 never consulting their GP about their complaints.

Julie Lewis, a Partner and medical law expert at Irwin Mitchell’s Bristol office, said: “Whilst we are saddened by the results of this survey, we are not surprised because ovarian cancer has long been known as the ’silent killer’ as it is so difficult to diagnose.

“However, health professionals are of course aware of this and more needs to be done to educate GPs to ensure they recognise the symptoms and refer the patient for the appropriate specialist treatment before it is too late.

“Women also have a responsibility to learn the red flag symptoms, such as bloating of the stomach, and should not be afraid to visit their GP if they have any concerns.

“Around 4,400 women die every year of ovarian cancer because it is not found until it spreads to other parts of the body. Better education will help doctors to diagnose quicker and ultimately save lives in the process.”