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Harlow’s health bosses explain poor rates of detection of ovarian cancer in Harlow

Health / Wed 26th Jun 2019 am30 10:11am

HARLOW’S health bosses have told YH that they are determined to reduce the rates of ovarian cancer in the area.

Last month, YH reported that the health service area covering Harlow has one of the poorest detection rates for ovarian cancer in the country.

Just 38% of women in the area covered by the West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are diagnosed with Stage One or Two ovarian cancer.

This compares with 56% in Thurrock, 60% in Islington and 54% in Barking and Dagenham.

The rate for North East Essex CCG is 29%.

More than 7,000 women get ovarian cancer each year in the UK, but one in five are too ill to receive treatment by the time they are diagnosed.

Women have a 90 per cent chance of surviving if the cancer is caught early, but just 10 per cent survive if they are diagnosed with stage-four ovarian cancer, the most advanced stage.

So, we asked the West Essex CCG, two questions:

1) Why are your rates of detection for Ovarian Cancer at 38%?

2) What action(s), if any, are you taking to improve it?

Their clinical director, Dr Christine Moss replied:

“Ovarian Cancer is a relatively rare cancer and this means data for west Essex can show wide variation year on year. In some years, the early stages (Stage 1 and 2) of the disease are a higher proportion than is seen nationally. The most recent data shows the west Essex proportion for Stage 1 and 2 disease as 56.4% compared to national rate of 43.5%.

“Ovarian cancer is difficult to diagnose especially in its early stage. Symptoms often mimic other diseases and usually present in later stages of the disease. The reverse of that is Stage 1 and 2 disease is often without symptoms.

“Awareness raising has encouraged those with known risk for developing this cancer to be proactively monitored, which can allow early detection. Training for GPs and direct access to blood and radiology tests has meant our GPs look more often to exclude this cancer.”

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