By William Burke, M.D., Director, and Noah Goldman, M.D.
Department of Gynecologic Oncology, The Valley Hospital
We have just returned from the Society of Gynecologic Oncology’s Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer, where the results of a new scientific study were released with important implications for women diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
As reported in The New York Times, the study found that most women with ovarian cancer receive inadequate care. In fact the study revealed that only a little over one third of ovarian cancer patients receive the best possible care, and that 80 percent are treated by doctors and hospitals that see few cases of the disease and lack expertise in the complex surgery and chemotherapy that can prolong life.
The study’s conclusion: the surgical treatment of ovarian cancer is meticulous and extensive and should be done by an experienced gynecologic oncologist who has the skills needed to remove all visible traces of the disease (called debulking), giving the chemotherapy drugs a better chance of killing what is left. Specifically, the study’s lead author recommends that women seek care at a hospital that treats more than 20 women with ovarian cancer a year and a gynecologic oncologist whose annual volume of surgical procedures for ovarian cancer tops 10 or more. In addition, women should seek care at hospitals that adhere to guidelines of care set by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.
We couldn’t agree more. It is crucial that any woman with a diagnosis of ovarian cancer ask their surgeon how often they operate on women with ovarian cancer and how often they achieve complete debulking. Don’t be afraid of offending your doctor. He or she should be more than happy to discuss these concerns with you.
Click here for the link to The New York Times report.
If you have any questions about the study’s findings, please don’t hesitate to call either of us at 201-634-5401.