Our Pathfinder Study, conducted in 2009 and 2012, is the most comprehensive study ever undertaken into the experiences of those living and working with ovarian cancer in the UK. What helps make Target Ovarian Cancer unique is our desire to ensure our work is underpinned by independent evidence of where the need is greatest. A key component of this is our Pathfinder study.
The findings have shaped our policies and driven a programme of work aimed at breaking the vicious circle of low survival, low awareness and chronic underfunding.
The study includes surveys with women in the general population, women who have ovarian cancer, GPs, clinical nurse specialists, researchers (2009) and clinicians (2012), including surgeons, medical and clinical oncologists, radiologists and pathologists.
The impact of our 2009 study
Our first Pathfinder study led Target Ovarian Cancer to focus on three priorities:
It provided vital information to policy makers, politicians and professionals about the challenges in ovarian cancer management.
- It presented evidence to the Department of Health that most GPs didn’t have access to urgent diagnostic scans. This led to major investment in ultrasound in England.
- The report revealed that a third of women face delays of six months or more in getting a diagnosis of ovarian cancer. For three quarters of women, the cancer has already spread when it’s diagnosed, making it more complex and difficult to treat. This led to the development of an award-winning free learning tool with BMJ Learning to improve GP’s knowledge of ovarian cancer.
The impact of our 2012 study
We repeated the study in 2012 to measure progress on key issues, and identify new opportunities to improve survival rates and quality of life for women with ovarian cancer.
The study highlighted three key issues:
- delays in diagnosis
- how the current financial climate was impacting negatively on the ability of Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNSs) to support women with ovarian cancer
- the fall in the number of women being offered clinical trials.
The results of the study have helped Target Ovarian Cancer to:
- Drive the development of the Clinical Trials Information Centre, an online tool aimed at both women and clinicians, to enable more women with ovarian cancer to enter clinical trials and create our Clinical Trials manifesto.
- Launch the CNS hub, a one-stop shop for Gynaecological Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialists, for sharing information on new ways of working, best practice and resources.
- Create the Pulse learning tool on familial ovarian cancer and create our BRCA gene statement.
- Launch the GP Advisory Board on ovarian cancer, bringing together leading GPs from around the UK in a bid to improve outcomes in early diagnosis for women.
- Campaign to have local ovarian cancer awareness pilots extended nationally.
The next iteration of the Pathfinder Study is planned for 2015.
Target Ovarian Cancer does not receive any state funding. This research is only made possible through donations and legacies. If you would like to contribute to these research projects and improve the lives of women with ovarian cancer, please visit our donate page.