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New York Times: Are there flaws in ovarian cancer treatment?

by on March 12, 2013

Yesterday, the New York Times reported on a new study suggesting that women with ovarian cancer receive inadequate care and do not receive treatments that could prolong their lives. The article in the NYT noted that the study confirmed the view of many experts that there are “widespread, persistent flaws” in the care of ovarian cancer patients. 

What are some of these flaws? One in particular jumped out at me – that many women receive treatment from doctors who have limited experience treating ovarian cancer. These doctors often do not have enough expertise in the complex treatments that might extend patients’ lives.

The article contains yet another troubling statistic. According to the NYT, the study found that “only a little more than a third of patients received the best possible care.”

Wow. That means that almost two-thirds of ovarian cancer patients are missing out on the best available treatment options, including the debulking surgery we’ve discussed previously on this blog.

The study discussed in the article highlights the benefits of seeing a gynecologic oncologist as opposed to a general surgeon or gynecologist. Seeing a specialist in this area may make a significant difference in the treatment options presented to a patient and the care she receives.

There was also an interesting comparison to breast cancer in the article, which stated:

“If this was breast cancer, and two-thirds of women were not getting guideline care that improves survival, you know what kind of hue and cry there would be,” said Dr. Armstrong, who was not involved in the study. But in ovarian cancer, she said: “There’s not as big an advocacy community. The women are a little older, sicker and less prone to be activists.”

Yet another reason that increasing ovarian cancer awareness is so essential. As we’ve said on this blog many times before, we need to make teal the new pink. The challenge, as always, is how to do that. For that reason, I’m glad to see the NYT shine a light on this issue and contribute to that increased awareness.

I’ve only pulled out a few points here, but the article is a very interesting read. I recommend that you click on over there and see for yourself.

-A.J.

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