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Ovarian Cancer

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What is Ovarian Cancer?

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Ovarian cancer forms in the ovary (or ovaries) of females. Ovaries make up part of the female reproductive system.

Ovaries are small circular organs that are found either side of the uterus and are connected to the fallopian tubes. They produce an egg which is then released each month. If the egg hits a sperm in the fallopian tube, fertilisation occurs and a baby is formed. If sperm is not present, the woman goes onto having a period.

Ovaries secrete a hormone that controls the menstrual cycle and fertility.

Statistics

  • 7,300 women each year are diagnosed with cancer. It claims 4000 lives and is the 6th most common form of cancer in women.
  • 80% of cases involve women over the age of 50.
  • 15% of women are diagnosed in the early stages of the disease.
  • One-third of women will survive two years or more after diagnosis.
  • In the UK, one woman dies every two hours from ovarian cancer.

ovarian cancer

 

What Are The Symptoms?

Ovarian cancer has symptoms that are very difficult to detect and decipher between that of cancer, pre-menstruation or irritable bowel syndrome. The main symptoms are:

  • Bloating.
  • Swollen abdomen.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Pain in the abdomen.
  • More frequent need for urination.
  • Indigestion and nausea.
  • Pain during sex.
  • Change in bowel habits.
  • Lower back pain.
  • Vaginal bleeding.
  • Tiredness.

If the symptoms persist for over three weeks, you are over 50 and have a family history of ovarian cancer, then treatment must be sought immediately from a GP.

Ovarian Cancer

 

Cause

There are certain risk factors that may cause ovarian cancer, such as:

  • Old age – The risk of cancer increases as you get older. It often coincides with the menopause.
  • Family history – The risk increases if a mother or sister has had the disease. If you are concerned, there is genetic testing that can be carried out to limit the chances.
  • Endometriosis – Cells that line the womb grown and are shed as part of a women’s period. They grow in the ovaries, bleed during the period and as the blood cannot go anywhere it damages the area.
  • Overweightness
  • Smoking

Some women who take oral contraceptives show a reduced risk of developing the cancer.

The only way to prevent ovarian cancer is to have a hysterectomy, but the medical professions are always reluctant to do this unless there is a compelling reason to do so.

Diagnosis

If you are concerned, your GP will do an examination of the stomach area. They are looking out for lumps that may be present.

The GP will also provide you with a blood test called the CA125 test, which measures how much protein is present in the system. A high value indicates cancer. It is not always accurate and could lead to a misdiagnosis of cancer.

If there is a high level of protein present, you would be referred to a gynaecologist on an urgent two-week referral basis. The gynaecologist will order an ultrasound scan which can be of two kinds:

  • Abdominal – A probe is placed over the stomach.
  • Trans/vaginal – The probe is placed into the vagina to view the ovaries.

The scans could show changes in the ovaries, but the only issue is that there could be other syndromes that might have caused this such as endometriosis.

It may, therefore, be the case that a biopsy is required. To obtain a biopsy of the tissues, a laparoscopic procedure will be undertaken, involving the insertion of a camera and excision tool into the stomach to take a small part of the cell wall. This will then be sent for laboratory testing to identify if cancer cells are present.

Staging of Ovarian Cancer

Surgical results/biopsy results are used to assist in staging the cancer. Firstly, the extent of the primary tumour (T) is determined, then it is determined whether the cancer has spread into the lymphatic system (N) and finally by determining whether the cancer has metastasized (M) or spread to other organs in the body. The TNM system is then used to stage the cancer and determine treatment.

There are four stages of ovarian cancer:

  • Stage One Cancer is contained within the ovary or ovaries and has not spread to other organs. Treatment is usually confined to surgery to remove one or both of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and womb. There is a possibility that some chemotherapy may also be required.
  • Stage Two Cancer has spread outside of the ovaries and into the lower abdomen and pelvis. Treatment generally involves chemotherapy before and after surgery to try and achieve the best results. Treatment is not always successful and may not be able to eradicate the cancer completely. If this is the case, then chemotherapy is used as a therapeutic measure following surgery to try to control the cancer as long as possible.
  • Stage Three Cancer has spread from the ovaries, to the pelvis and into the abdominal cavity and/or lymph nodes. Treatment for stage three ovarian cancer usually involves surgery and chemotherapy before and after surgery. Dependent upon the advancement of the cancer, targeted treatment by way of a drug may be used alongside chemotherapy. Women diagnosed as suffering from stage three cancer have a 39% survival rate past five years.
  • Stage 4 Cancer is significantly advanced and has metastasised to other organs of the body, such as the lungs. Treatment is provided to prevent life and to control the cancer as long as possible. Stage four cancer has a low curable rate.

Surgery

 

Treatment

Treatment will depend on whether the cancer has spread or not. Treatment may consist of:

  • Surgery – Is used to try to remove all the cancer. If the cancer is in just one ovary, it will simply be removed so that the other ovary can continue to carry on working.

If, however, the cancer has spread then a full hysterectomy of the womb, possibly the fallopian tube and the ovaries may need to be removed. This would mean that you would certainly be infertile.

  • Chemotherapy and radiotherapy – Are often used in conjunction with surgery to ensure that no cancer cells are left. They have side effects including hair loss, vomiting, weight loss and exhaustion.
  • Palliative care – If the cancer has spread, treatment may become limited and it may be that it is about keeping the patient comfortable.

How Do I Make A Claim?

If you feel that you have suffered as a result of the care you have received by a medical professional, either in diagnosing your cancer or providing the treatment for the cancer, you may be entitled to bring about a claim for compensation.

Our team will be able to give you free advice on the prospects of your case, and whether you would be eligible to make a claim.

Who Can Bring About A Claim?

The patient who has been affected may be able to bring about a claim. However, it can also sadly be the case that the patient has passed as a result of the disease.   In such instances, the executor of the estate or the next of kin/dependents may be able to bring about a claim.

Our specialist team will be able to discuss whether you have a right to bring about a claim, so if you or a loved one has been affected do not hesitate to contact us.

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How Long Will My Case Take To Run?

Given the complexities involved in pursuing Clinical Negligence claims, they can often take 18-24 months to conclude and longer if Court proceedings have to be issued.

Our investigations start by obtaining all relevant records and protocols, before approaching independent medical experts for their opinion. We will provide you with regular updates on the progress of your case to ensure that you are kept up to speed.

How Much Is My Claim Worth?

It is often difficult to value Clinical Negligence claims at their outset, given the complexities involved. However, we will pursue two forms of compensation for you:

  • General damages – An award of money for the pain and suffering you have endured as a result of the negligence.
  • Special damages – An award of money for all of your out-of-pocket expenses, such as travel expenses, medication costs, loss of earnings, treatment costs both past and future.

This list is not exhaustive and is very case-specific. In cases where the patient has passed as a result of negligence, then such things as a statutory bereavement payment, the cost of the funeral and the cost of administering the estate may also be recoverable.

Oakwood Solicitors Ltd

 

Why Use Oakwood Solicitors To Make Your Clinical Negligence Case?

We have a dedicated team of solicitors and paralegals who have many years’ experience between them in running cases of this nature. They are highly trained to deal with all aspects of Clinical Negligence.

We want to ensure that clients are not overwhelmed by legal jargon and medical terms that they don’t understand.  We want to allow the claims procedure to be as transparent as possible.

Ask our team about our No-Win, No-Fee agreement.

How Is My Case Funded?

The majority of Clinical Negligence cases are funded by a Conditional Fee Agreement, more commonly known as a ‘no-win, no-fee’ agreement. This means that there will be nothing to pay up front and nothing to pay if the claim has been lost. If you are successful in your claim, a deduction of 25% of damages will be taken to cover the success fee and the shortfall in legal fees.

It may also be the case that an After The Event (ATE) insurance policy will be obtained to cover the costs of expensive medical reports and investigations. If an ATE insurance policy has to be obtained, the cost of the same will be discussed with you at the appropriate point.

The cost of the ATE insurance policy is again taken from your damages and only payable if you are successful with your claim.

Charities/Useful Websites

Target Ovarian Cancer

Ovacome

Ovarian Cancer Action

WHAT TO DO NEXT

If you have been affected by misdiagnosis or late diagnosis of ovarian cancer, get in touch today for a free initial consultation. Choose one of the methods on the right-hand side of this page, or call us on 0113 200 9787 to find out how we can help you.

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Carol Cook

Head of Department - Medical Negligence

0113 200 9780

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