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This Week in the British Medical Journal: May 2, 2011


In the British Medical Journal this week, UK researchers present the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence's guidelines for the recognition and management of ovarian cancer. "The outcome for women with ovarian cancer is generally poor, with an overall five year survival rate of less than 35 percent," the authors write. "Greater awareness of the disease and appropriate initial investigations in primary and secondary care are needed to enable earlier referral and optimum treatment." The guidelines include recommendations for awareness of symptoms and signs of cancer, first tests to be done, finding biomarkers to establish what subtype of ovarian cancer a given patient has, and management of early and advanced disease.

NICE also released an updated guidance for the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer in order to inform physicians of updated treatment options and "important advances in management," the researchers write. The new recommendations include tips on how to communicate with patients, and treatment for the various subtypes of lung cancer.

Among the NICE guidelines for ovarian cancer, says Anne Gulland in this week's British Medical Journal, is a recommendation that women exhibiting symptoms of ovarian cancer take a test for protein CA125. Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer for women in the UK, and the UK lags behind other European countries in treatment of the disease, simply because the nature of the symptoms can lead many women down the path of treatment for a gastrointestinal problem, Gulland says. This test could help clinicians catch ovarian cancer much earlier and improve the survival rate, and NICE doesn't believe that wider use of the test would add a financial burden on the NHS, she adds.