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Most ovarian cancer diagnosed ‘promptly’

Study challenges anecdotal evidence of diagnostic delay in ovarian cancer.

Concerns Australian women with ovarian cancer endure a "long and circuitous" path from their first GP visit to eventual diagnosis have been declared unfounded.

A study taking in more than 1400 women who have the cancer found 85 per cent had visited three or fewer doctors before they were correctly diagnosed.

For 66 per cent of the women, their cancer was diagnosed within one month of their first related trip to a doctor and 80 per cent were diagnosed within three months.

"To our knowledge, this is the first study to describe in detail the diagnostic pathways experienced by women with ovarian cancer in Australia," said Dr Susan Jordan, from the School of Population Health at the University of Queensland.

"Anecdotally, there is a perception that the journey from first presentation to diagnosis is often long and circuitous for women with ovarian cancer.

"Our study provides reassurance that, despite anecdotal evidence to the contrary, most women with ovarian cancer in Australia are diagnosed promptly once they present to a medical practitioner."

However, the study found that for 12 per cent of the women their diagnosis took longer than six months.

Jordan said this was more likely for women living in remote Australia, those with lower incomes and those presenting with abdominal pain or bowel symptoms, or multiple symptoms.

"Further studies addressing these factors, especially lack of access to care, are warranted," she said.

The research is published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

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