According to a story from Mirror, the advocacy group Patient Concern is calling out the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) for failing to treat cancer patients appropriately. The claims are based on data revealed at the world largest cancer conference that revealed that the NHS stopped cancer treatment three years earlier than it was safe to do so. Halting treatment early can increase the risk of relapse and lack of follow up can allow larger tumors to develop. The data includes cancers of all types, including rare ones such as ovarian cancer.
Ovarian cancer forms either within or on the ovary. It may not cause noticeable symptoms in its early stages, which means that it is often not detected until it has reached an advanced stage. Women who ovulate the most over their lifetime face increased risk. Other possible risks include the use of fertility drugs, genetic factors (BRCA mutation), and exposure to certain pesticides and herbicides. There are a great variety of different cancer types that can appear in the ovary that require different treatment approaches and have different potential outcomes. Treatment typically involves surgery and chemotherapy, and occasionally radiation therapy. Surgery can be sufficient for tumors that are well differentiated and have not spread. To learn more about ovarian cancer, click here.
Other patient groups are beginning to speak out about this problem as well. The charity Target Ovarian Cancer says that ovarian cancer follow-up on the NHS lasts five years; the British Lung Foundation found that the same thing was true for lung cancer. However, a University of Texas study that involved 2.3 million patients recommended that follow-up for these types of cancers should last at least nine years to ensure that relapse has not occurred.
The inadequate follow-up on the NHS can have a major impact on outcomes and increases the risk of cancer returning without being noticed until it is too late. This may also explain why cancer survival rates in the UK tend to be worse than other developed nations. Clearly, changes to NHS follow-up policy appear to be necessary in order to ensure that cancer patients are getting the care that they need.