GP Nurse talking to a woman
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Posted by Target Ovarian Cancer on Wednesday 27 December 2017

Over 40 per cent of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer visit their GP three times or more before being referred for diagnostic tests. And almost half of women are initially referred for tests for something other than ovarian cancer. Primary care (such as GP surgeries and GP nurses) plays a pivotal role in ensuring that women are put on the right path for diagnosis as soon as possible. It is vital that primary care health professionals such as GPs and general practice nurses are knowledgeable of ovarian cancer and vigilant of the symptoms that are commonly associated with it.

Pressure is mounting on primary care to provide more services to their local community. Patients are increasingly finding that general practice nurses are the most accessible health professional in the practice, often being offered an appointment with a GP nurse in the first instance rather than a GP.

Target Ovarian Cancer believes it is essential that GP nurses have access to high quality information about ovarian cancer. We have taken a three-pronged approach to significantly improve GP nurses’ knowledge of ovarian cancer, guide them on how to help women who may be showing symptoms and explore opportunities to proactively talk to women about ovarian cancer symptoms.

  1. Our new general practice nurse leaflet helps nurses update their knowledge of ovarian cancer symptoms and risk factors, and gives simple suggestions for discussing ovarian cancer with patients.
  2. We published an article in the journal Practice Nursing that takes an in depth look at ovarian cancer, the challenges of diagnosis in primary care and also the opportunities for earlier diagnosis.
  3. Our Royal College of Nursing accredited eLearning module on ovarian cancer takes general practice nurses through a series of clinical scenarios, helping them to explore how patients might present with ovarian cancer symptoms in general practice. 

GP nurses typically provide services to women including smear tests, contraception review, menopause clinics and health MOTs. Women often use these appointments to discuss general health concerns – and some would mention things to their general practice nurse that they wouldn’t mention to a GP. It is important that GP nurses are alert during these times to any mention of possible symptoms of ovarian cancer. These appointments are also key opportunities to offer women information about the symptoms of ovarian cancer, so they can be on the lookout and come back in if they are worried.

Help to raise awareness of ovarian cancer in your local surgery. You can order copies of our general practice nurse leaflet, and copies of our symptoms awareness materials including leaflets, posters and symptoms diaries.

Find out more