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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

British doctors are woefully ill-informed about symptoms of ovarian cancer

BBC News reports that ovarian cancer is being 'missed': that far from being a 'silent killer' as it is frequently described, it has several serious symptoms, including abdominal distension and vaginal bleeding, but doctors are not investigating these symptoms.

The report informs us that around 6,800 women are diagnosed with the cancer each year. Only 30% are alive five years after diagnosis, and the survival rate has not improved in 30 years.

Annwen Jones, Chief Executive of the charity Target Ovarian Cancer, says, "The UK's high rates of late diagnosis have played an important part in keeping five year survival rates low, at just 30% - amongst the lowest in the Western World."

I agree with Annwen Jones that change is long overdue. I know of someone who experienced extreme abdominal distension years ago - so much so that people she knew were asking her whether she was pregnant - and was very, very tired and in great pain. She was also bleeding heavily. She presented with these symptoms repeatedly over a space of about 18 months at her GP's and was patronisingly told that these symptoms were perfectly normal for middle-aged women! - This was someone who did not go to see a doctor with trivial complaints, yet she was treated in this dismissive, disgusting way. - She was so tired that she could no longer go to work and had to give in her notice! - Now THAT is not normal for middle-aged women and it is ridiculous and contemptible that a doctor should should insult an exhausted, gravely ill woman in that way.

It was not until she was close to death that the GP actually realised that she was ill and rang to arrange for her to go into hospital. He then told her to 'toddle along home and wait for the ambulance!' - She could not manage to walk more than a few steps along his drive and collapsed, and the receptionist rushed out to her and summoned the ambulance urgently. By the time she reached the hospital she no longer even knew her name and was very dangerously short of blood. She had to be given a blood transfusion urgently and also needed a hysterectomy, because the ovarian cancer had by this time become disseminated throughout the abdominal cavity. There was no way she could possibly recover and she died in agonising pain a few weeks later, another victim of medical negligence, so common in our lousy NHS.

I was reading online today that the NHS is so good that even the Royal Family go into NHS hospitals for treatment. - Yes, of course they do! - But they wouldn't be left to bleed heavily for 18 months first, or be insulted and not be examined till they were dying, would they? - We all - taxpayers - pay for the NHS. We don't all get good treatment. The more important you are, the better the treatment you get.

Britain's doctors should be told to take women's symptoms seriously. When a woman complains of heavy bleeding, she is not complaining because she doesn't like having menstrual periods; she is reporting serious blood loss/haemorrhage, and she should be properly examined and sent to a specialist to find the cause of the bleeding. - Heavy bleeding is not caused by being middle-aged!