Waiting Time for Ovarian Cancer Treatment Found to be Longer Than Almost all Other Malignancies

Women diagnosed with ovarian cancer were reported to have longer waiting times for treatment vs other cancer types with the exception of kidney cancer.

Patients with ovarian cancer were found to have longer waiting times for treatment compared with those with patients who have been diagnosed with other malignancies, according to a report from Target Ovarian Cancer.1

On average, women who are suspected to have ovarian cancer wait an average of 69 days following referral from a general practitioner in order to begin treatment, marking the second longest wait time aside from patients diagnosed with kidney cancer.

“It’s not helped by the fact that two thirds of women with ovarian cancer are diagnosed late. They can often confuse ovarian cancer symptoms with more common conditions like [irritable bowel syndrome] or menopause, which can delay things further, and [general practitioners] often misdiagnose the symptoms as another condition like a [urinary tract infection],” Alexandra Holden, deputy chief executive of Target Ovarian Cancer, said in a press release.2 She added that “the causes behind the protracted waiting times for treatment are ‘complex’ and must ‘urgently’ be looked into.”

This report was conducted utilizing the most recently available statistics from 2018, with findings indicating that on average, women from Britain who were of Asian descent waited 74.5 days from the time of being referred to a specialist, to the beginning of their treatment. Additionally, Black women waited 73.5 days, and White women waited 68 days.

Investigators caution that the report has limitations and does not fully cover the challenges of that those being treated for or diagnosed with ovarian cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic. Patients had treatment disruptions during the time the study took place from June 2020 to July 2020.

Additional findings from the report indicated that over half of all patients over 70 years of age who were diagnosed following a visit to Accident & Emergency (A&E). In particular, women who were 85 or older were twice as likely to be diagnosed with ovarian cancer after a trip to A&E compared with those who were younger than 50 years. Women with ovarian cancer who were diagnosed visiting the emergency department were often found to have more aggressive disease type, and at this time, had less treatment options to choose from.

“Nobody should have to deal with the level of uncertainty caused by long treatment waiting times. Two thirds of ovarian cancers are diagnosed late and starting treatment sooner could have a significant impact on improving outcomes. Our analysis of NHS [National Health Service] cancer statistics shows worrying variations in diagnosis, treatment, and care. And these are pre-pandemic figures. It is imperative that we now work at pace to remove any and all barriers to excellent NHS care for everyone with ovarian cancer,” Annwen Jones, OBE, chief executive at Target Ovarian Cancer, concluded in the press release.

Target Ovarian cancer also conducted an ovarian cancer audit feasibility pilot with the goal of mapping care, surgery, and survival in England for the first time.3 Findings from the pilot, which published in January 2020 indicated that women in England were twice as likely to receive an ovarian cancer diagnosis vs other areas, with the disease being most common in patients over the age of 50.

Notably, investigators observed a significant variation in the number of patients diagnosed with early stage, treatable disease. At the time the pilot published, 33% of patients were diagnosed with stage I and II disease and 50% were diagnosed with stage III or IV disease. In some locations data was missing for more than 1 in 4 women who had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Reference

1. Target Ovarian Cancer. Taking action on long waiting times. January 6, 2022. Accessed January 14, 2022. https://bit.ly/3fGIbU9

2. Women with ovarian cancer enduring longer waiting times for treatment than other patients. News Release. Targeted Ovarian Cancer. January 5, 2022. Accessed January 12, 2022. https://yhoo.it/3fkQ2q9

3. Target Ovarian Cancer. Ovarian cancer audit feasibility pilot. Accessed January 14, 2022. https://bit.ly/3no8Itq