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‘Substandard care’ for over-70s with ovarian cancer as 1 in 5 patients ‘gets no treatment’

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Women aged 70 or over are receiving substandard care to tackle ovarian cancer with one in five patients in their seventies getting no treatment whatsoever, a new study has found.

A report from Ovarian Cancer Action revealed almost half of patients in their 70s do not undergo surgery to treat the disease, even though it provides the best long-term prognosis for one of the most common types of cancer in women.

In total, around one in five (22%) of ovarian cancer patients aged 70 to 79  and three in five women with ovarian cancer who were over 80 years old were given no treatment for the disease.

The inadequate healthcare given to older ovarian cancer patients causes a disproportionately high short term death rate for them, the study found.

The study found older patients are substantially less likely to be referred by their GP for diagnostic tests such as ultrasounds when ovarian cancer symptoms surface.

Dr Susana Banerjee, a consultant medical oncologist at The Royal Marsden, said: “With an ageing population, many more patients with ovarian cancer are over the age of 70, so there is an urgent need to understand the best way to effectively treat older women."

“Optimising patients for treatment through frailty assessments and interventions, sharing best practice across cancer centres and representing older patients in clinical trials are important steps towards ensuring equal access to effective and tolerable treatment that could help more women live beyond their diagnosis, with a good quality of life, no matter their age.”

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