Published March 12, 2013
Many women with an ovarian cancer diagnosis are not receiving adequate care or treatments, which could add extra time to their lives, The New York Times reported.
A new study from the University of California, Irvine, found there are major flaws in the care of women who have ovarian cancer. Too many of them are using doctors who lack expertise and are going to hospitals that don’t see enough of the disease to adequately treat it.
About 22,000 new cases of ovarian cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States, and 15,000 woman die from the disease each year. Often these cases are caught at an advanced stage.
“If we could just make sure that women get to the people who are trained to take care of them, the impact would be much greater than that of any new chemotherapy drug or biological agent,” Dr. Robert E. Bristow, the director of gynecologic oncology at the University of California, Irvine, and lead author of the new study, told the Times.
The study was presented Monday at a meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology in Los Angeles.
According to the study, slightly more than one-third of patients are receiving “the best possible care,” according to the New York Times.
Experts said women need to see gynecologic oncologists, but too many women are being treated by obstetricians who delivered their babies. Some women feel they don’t have time to find a specialist, or worse, don’t know gynecologic experts exist, the Times said.
According to experts, an extensive surgery – which involves removing not only the ovaries, but the spleen, parts of the intestine, stomach and other organs, as well as the reproductive system – combined with chemotherapy is the best treatment.
The study was submitted to a medical journal, but it has not yet been accepted. It looked at medical records of more than 13,000 women who were diagnosed with ovarian cancer between the years of 1999 and 2006 in the state of California.
More than 80 percent of the patients were treated by ‘low-volume’ providers – or surgeons who have treated 10 or less cases – and hospitals treating 20 or less cases. Hospitals and doctors who have treated a higher volume of cases are more likely to stick to guidelines, and their patients live longer.