Outcomes following implementation of symptom triggered diagnostic testing for ovarian cancer

Nirmala Rai, James Nevin, Gabrielle Downey, Parveen Abedin, Moji Balogun, Sean Kehoe, Sudha Sundar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVES: UK is the first country to implement symptom triggered testing for suspected ovarian cancer (OC) following guidance from National Institute of Clinical Excellence in 2011. We evaluated its impact on cancer outcomes and implications on clinical practice.

STUDY DESIGN: This is a cohort study and we analysed data for all new urgent referrals for suspected OC from two large teaching hospitals using a prospectively collected electronic referral database, supplemented with clinical data from electronic records. We evaluated outcomes prior to (2011) and after (2013) implementation of guidance to evaluate stage shift, referrals workload and surgical procedures generated.

RESULTS: Secondary care received 2185 new referrals from primary care for women with suspected gynaecological cancer in post guideline cohort. Of these, 217 women were referred for suspected OC. 90% of primary care referrals were not compliant with guidance. Following implementation of guidance, more women with OC were diagnosed through urgent referral (rapid access clinics): Almost double, 21 of the total 67 (31.34%) OCs in 2013 (post guidance) in comparison to only 11 of 69 OCs (15.94%) were diagnosed in 2011 (pre guidance) through urgent referrals, p=0.03. The predictive value of detecting cancer through rapid access clinics increased, from 4.5% to 9.6%, p=0.04; however, no stage shift was noted. Over 25% of patients underwent surgeries for non-malignant conditions in the post-guideline cohort. No increase was seen in workload of cancer clinics.

CONCLUSION: Implementation of Symptom-triggered testing is challenging in clinical practice. Such testing results in more patients with OC accessing expedited care pathways leading to streamlined routes of diagnosis and care. However, current implementation does not lead to stage shift in diagnosis and may not achieve significant mortality benefit.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-69
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.


  • Diagnosis
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Referral
  • Symptoms


Dive into the research topics of 'Outcomes following implementation of symptom triggered diagnostic testing for ovarian cancer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this