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Doctors appeal for national ovarian cancer guidelines

Doctors have appealed to the Government for national guidelines to be put in place to protect women from ovarian cancer.

Specialists at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists have urged that women who have decided to not have any more children should be offered the opportunity to have their fallopian tubes surgically removed in order to dramatically reduce the chances of developing ovarian cancer.

Although it is a simple procedure, the impact on the population and ovarian cancer incidence rates could be phenomenal. Experts have predicted that this simple surgery could reduce the risk of the most serious form of ovarian cancer by almost 66% for women in their 40s and 50s.

Ovarian cancer affects 7,000 women a year, but is sometimes not detected earlier due to a lack of obvious symptoms before diagnosis.

Dr Ian Harley works at the Northern Ireland Regional Oncology Centre in Belfast and helped lead a study which showed the effectiveness of the simple procedure on a sample of participants. He stated: “Being pro-active and if the opportunity arises among women who have completed their families, removal of the fallopian tubes could help reduce the incidence of ovarian cancer. Removal of the fallopian tubes during surgery for other conditions carries minimal additional surgical risk to the patient.”

He added additional support to the popular proposal, saying, “Much evidence supports the theory that ovarian high-grade serous carcinomas arise from the fallopian tube and we now know much more about the genetic make-up. There has been little improvement in survival from this cancer.”

Doctors and experts aim to use Harley’s study as the basis for newer guidelines to be drawn up to help protect hundreds and potentially thousands from developing the disease. The preventative method might be considered as ‘unnecessary surgery’ by some, but with the results of the study showing that an optional but simple surgical procedure could save a great number of people, guidelines might be put in place.

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