Open-door policy urged with symptoms of ovarian Ca
GPs should have an 'open-door policy' for women who have symptoms consistent with
ovarian cancer as one of a series of measures to speed up diagnosis, researchers propose.
Their study suggested almost all women with ovarian cancer had had problems with their
diagnosis. GPs were risking
delays by failing to thoroughly investigate symptoms and being unclear about which secondary care tests to order.
The researchers, from the DIPEx patients' experience research group at the University of Oxford, interviewed 43 women with the disease.
Patients commonly complained GPs had failed to
investigate symptoms or
not taken their complaints
seriously. Some had been referred incorrectly to gastroenterology or faced long waits for referral.
Writing online in the journal Family Practice, the authors made five recommendations for GPs to reduce delays:
• More detailed histories
• Open-door policy for patients whose symptoms persist
• Explaining rationale for
exploring non-cancer causes
• Considering an abdominal ultrasound scan
• Improved GP education on ovarian cancer symptoms.
Study leader Julie Evans,
senior qualitative researcher at the department of primary care, University of Oxford, said delays in diagnosing ovarian cancer were a result of its vague and non-specific symptoms. But she added that GPs should 'keep an open mind' and encourage patients to come back for further investigation if their symptoms persisted.
She said: 'This is a very, very important issue. We found delays were quite common and nearly all women had problems with diagnosis. I would urge GPs to think laterally and think "what else could be causing these symptoms?".'