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Study finds delay in referrals for older women with ovarian cancer
Date:3/2/2010

survival rates and higher mortality rates experienced in the UK compared with other European countries."

Survival rates for cancer in the UK are amongst the lowest in Europe, particularly for older people (see note 1). Despite significant advances in cancer treatment, these developments seem not to be benefiting older people as much as they could. A comparison of data from the World Health Organization registry database suggests that there has been little or no improvement in cancer mortality rates for the UK elderly during the last decade (see note 2).

The researchers also found that the rates of recorded diagnoses of ovarian cancer in the GPRD were lower than those recorded in UK cancer registries for all age groups. However, these differences were much larger for patients over sixty; for example, for women aged forty-five to fifty, the difference was only 5% as compared with 22% for those between seventy-five and eighty.

The researchers stress that the reasons for the discrepancy between the GP database and the UK cancer registry are not clear, but may be explained in part by how and when data is recorded. Similarly, it may be possible that GPs are less motivated to record cancer diagnoses in older people if they have other serious illnesses, or to investigate them for other problems first.

"Electronic patient records provide a valuable opportunity for disease surveillance and for monitoring and improving," explains Professor Jackie Cassell. "It is important that we understand why there is a discrepancy between rates in the GP databases compared to cancer registries. This will help ensure that the information available to our health services is accurate and fit for purpose."

Sara Hiom, director of health information at Cancer Research UK, which owns the British Journal of Cancer, said: "Ovarian cancer symptoms can be vague and suggestive of other, less serious conditions. But it's important that the disease is diagno
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Contact: Craig Brierley
c.brierley@wellcome.ac.uk
44-207-611-7329
Wellcome Trust
Source:Eurekalert

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