Most women with ovarian cancer investigated and diagnosed promptly in Australia

January 01, 0001

Most women with ovarian cancer investigated and diagnosed promptly in Australia

The aim of this study was to describe the diagnostic pathways experienced by a large, representative group of Australian women with ovarian cancer, and to document the time between first presentation to a medical professional and clinical diagnosis. 1,463 women with epithelial ovarian cancer from an Australia-wide population-based study (2002-2005) completed a telephone interview in which they described the events that led to the diagnosis of their cancer.

Of the 1463 women, 145 had their cancer diagnosed incidentally and were excluded from analysis. Most of the remaining 1318 women (1222, 93%) presented first to their general practitioner. As a result of their first medical consultation, 75 women (6%) were given a diagnosis, and 484 (37%) were referred to a gynaecologist, gynaecological oncologist or oncologist for further assessment. Overall, 85% of women visited three or fewer doctors before their cancer was diagnosed; 66% of cancers were diagnosed within 1 month of the initial presentation, and 80% were diagnosed within 3 months. For 12% of women, the diagnostic process took longer than 6 months; this was more likely for women residing in remote Australia, those with lower incomes, and those presenting with abdominal pain or bowel symptoms, or with more than one symptom.

The researchers concluded: "Despite anecdotal suggestions to the contrary, most women with ovarian cancer in Australia are investigated and diagnosed promptly. The diagnostic process is more protracted for a minority of women, and the factors we found to be associated with diagnostic delay warrant further investigation."

This does appear to be at odds with the anecdotal suggestions.

For the full abstract, click here.

MJA 193(6):326-330 20 September 2010
© The Medical Journal of Australia 2010
Pathways to the diagnosis of epithelial ovarian cancer in Australia. Susan J Jordan, Jane E Francis, Anne E Nelson, Helen M Zorbas, Karen A Luxford and Penelope M Webb. Correspondence to Susan Jordan: [email protected]

Category: X. Female Genital System, Breast. Keywords: diagnosis, ovarian cancer, cohort study, journal watch.
Synopsis edited by Dr Stephen Wilkinson, Melbourne, Australia. Posted on Global Family Doctor 22 October 2010

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