Target Ovarian Cancer and Macmillan Cancer Support have produced a series of ‘10 top tips’ which aim to support patients and GPs in communicating more effectively with each other about the symptoms of ovarian cancer.
Successful communication is a crucial first step towards getting women with ovarian cancer symptoms appropriately investigated and diagnosed. Whilst ovarian cancer is relatively rare the symptoms associated with it are very common but combinations of symptoms and the pattern of symptoms are what should alert people to the need to investigate. ’10 top tips’ is a need backed up by Target Ovarian Cancer’s Pathfinder Study which revealed that women were experiencing severe delays in their diagnosis. Almost a third of women were being diagnosed more than 6 months after they first went to see their doctor.
Target Ovarian Cancer and Macmillan Cancer Support brought together practicing GPs and women with experience of ovarian cancer to address this issue and share their knowledge and opinions through a series of facilitated discussions. With the aim of recognising the challenges and limitations both patients and GPs face the meeting sought to identify opportunities for improvement and to outline clear and simple tips for both parties.
A way to empower women
Adele Sewell took part in the discussions on behalf of Target Ovarian Cancer: “As a woman with ovarian cancer I know that many of us have a really difficult time getting a correct diagnosis. The 10 top tips are a way to empower women like me to get an earlier diagnosis of ovarian cancer by communicating their concerns to their GP in the best possible way. And I hope they help GPs make sure they don't miss the possibility that seemingly ordinary symptoms could be something very serious. This will hopefully help to save lives.”
Target Ovarian Cancer is committed to improving the experience outcomes and care of women who are living with ovarian cancer. Working with women health professionals and the government the charity aims to increase awareness of the disease and ultimately improve survival rates. Target Ovarian Cancer has also developed successful online learning tools for GPs produced with both BMJ Learning and the Royal College of GPs that are NICE accredited.
Macmillan Cancer Support has a long track record of developing projects and opportunities in collaboration with primary care professionals that support people living with cancer enhancing their wellbeing and quality of life. Macmillan have a dedicated network of Cancer Primary Care Leads practicing GPs who work in their communities to bring about better care and services for cancer patients in the primary care setting.
Cathy a Macmillan GP said: "Macmillan GP Advisers have produced a range of 10 top tips on cancer but the development of the ovarian cancer 10 top tips is the first time we have collaborated directly to co-create the tips with patients. The experience has been inspiring and humbling in equal measures and we are very grateful to our patient collaborators for their time in sharing with us their experiences and wisdom. We hope that the documents we have produced will be useful to both GPs and patients and will provide them with insights and tips which will lead to an improvement in the experience of care for patients going through the critical diagnostic stages".
You can download a copy of '10 Top Tips' to print out here.