May 8th is World Ovarian Cancer Day

May 7th, 2020 in Hot Topics, International News

The world faces an unprecedented global health crisis at present, and we’d like to thank all nurses on the front line for your incredibly hard and vital work either looking after people with Covid-19, or patients with other very serious conditions, such as women with ovarian cancer.

The fact that you care so much and are willing and able to undertake such an important role is no surprise to us. We and very many of our patient organisation members know what a key role you play in helping to look after women with ovarian cancer, no matter where they live in the world. Addressing the disparity of nursing roles and utilisation of specialist skills is something we will support you within future, be that fine-tuning and streamlining training across large regions where specialist cancer nurses exist or advocating for the key role that oncology nurses could play in lower and middle-income countries, supporting prevention, screening, early diagnosis, specialist treatment and palliative care.

The wide disparity in roles and interaction with nurses was seen in The Every Woman Study, carried out in 2018 by the World Ovarian Cancer Coalition. 1531 women from 44 countries took part, and during our testing phase, we found it almost impossible to ask a standard set of questions that could be applicable to all, because of the very different duties nurses undertook, and the different levels of interaction with women. The following table showed the wide disparity in nursing contact, in countries where we had more than 40 respondents. Overall 75% of women undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer had some form of contact.

Where nurses are involved in care, on the whole, they are involved in most aspects of care from diagnosis, surgery, chemotherapy, follow up and acting as a contact point. They are more likely to be specialist nurses around the time of chemotherapy (78%), follow up (57%) and answering questions between appointments (60%), than on diagnosis (43%) or at surgery (48%).

Respondents were largely very positive about the role that nurses play in terms of their care, despite the wide variations in tasks and specialisation. Just over half (51.6%) said that nurses were able to provide important continuity of care, and a third of respondents who had nursing care said the nurses were a good source of information on ovarian cancer (35.5%), had more time to spend with them than the doctors (33.8%), we’re able to signpost to other services (31.1%) and that women felt able to ask them questions that they could not ask the doctors (30/8%).

Overall the findings of the Every Woman Study show very wide variations in experiences between and sometimes within countries, and that this provides opportunities to improve the survival and quality of life for women no matter where they are. Similarly, the wide variations in access to and roles of nurses involved in cancer care tell us that much more can be done to strengthen the value nurses bring to the experiences of women with ovarian cancer not just in high but also low and middle-income countries, and that we will support you in this quest as soon as we are all able to focus once again on these matters.

For more information about the Coalition visit and to read the Every Woman Study Report click here.