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Posted by Target Ovarian Cancer on Wednesday 25 February 2009

The Department of Health, Target Ovarian Cancer and other groups have worked together to produce important new information for doctors. Launched in time for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month (March), the 'key messages' provide the first clear steer for health professionals faced with the challenge of diagnosing ovarian cancer. 

Developed as part of the National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative, this new messaging confirms that most patients with ovarian cancer do present with symptoms at their first visit to the GP and that anyone with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) like symptoms that are persistent and frequent may warrant further investigation, particularly if they are over the age of 50, when a diagnosis of IBS would be unusual.

“We are delighted that this messaging has been released in time for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month,  and will now begin the all important work of ensuring it reaches as many GPs as possible,” said Annwen Jones, Chief Executive of Target Ovarian Cancer. "New guidance on the 'recognition and initial management of ovarian cancer' is being developed by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence - but this will not be ready for another two years.  In the meantime these new key messages will provide GPs with important up to date information," she commented.

“There’s an urgent need for faster diagnosis of ovarian cancer and GPs are on the frontline,“ said Dr Willie Hamilton, GP, University of Bristol who is representing GPs interests on the multi-disciplinary panel of independent experts convened to shape the Target Ovarian Cancer Pathfinder Study. “Currently survival rates for women with ovarian cancer in the UK are among the worst in Europe at 30%.  If it’s caught at an early stage however survival rates of up to 90% can be achieved,” Dr Hamilton said.

The messages for health professionals followed on from messages developed last October for members of the public, concerned about ovarian cancer.