Nottingham University Hospitals Trust (NUH) has been awarded the European Society of Gynaecological Oncology (EGSO) certification for advanced ovarian cancer surgery.
The ESGO certification, which has been presented to the hospital’s Gynaecological Oncology Department, means that NUH is now recognised as one of only eight certified centres in the UK.
The award is given to institutions offering patients the specialist surgical skills, experience and facilities, needed to achieve the best levels of care in this area.
Accredited hospitals must meet strict standards to achieve the accreditation. This includes having access to intensive care facilities and multidisciplinary support from radiology and pathology experts.
The Gynaecological Oncology Specialists at NUH currently treat around 100 patients each year for advanced ovarian cancers.
People who usually need advanced ovarian cancer surgery have stages 3c and 4 ovarian cancer. This means that the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Around 75% of ovarian cancers are usually diagnosed at this advanced stage.
When a patient is diagnosed they will normally need a CT scan to see what stage their disease is at.
A team of specialists then discuss the patient’s case and decisions are usually taken along the following lines: 1) Chemotherapy alone, 2) Chemotherapy followed by extensive surgery or 3) Up front extensive surgery followed by chemotherapy.
These are very careful decisions which are made by teams of medical experts, called the multidisciplinary cancer team - and many factors could influence what type of treatment is recommended for the patient.
The aim is usually to be able to offer surgery to as many patients as possible. Evidence shows that patients who have had their cancer completely removed at the time of surgery have a better overall survival rate.
These operations - called ultra-radical cytoreductive surgery - are long and complex and many teams of specialists are usually involved in working together to make sure all visible disease in the pelvis, abdomen and sometimes in the chest cavity,is completely removed.
Ovarian cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in women and carries a high mortality rate especially if diagnosed late.
It mainly affects women who have been through the menopause but it can sometimes affect younger women.
Common symptoms of ovarian cancer include: Feeling constantly bloated, a swollen tummy, discomfort in your tummy or pelvic area, feeling full quickly when eating and needing to urinate more often than usual.
The symptoms are not always easy to recognise because of their similarity to some more common conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). However if women are concerned about their symptoms, they should see their GP without delay.
Mr Jafaru Abu, Gynaecological Oncology surgeon and lead for Gynaecological Cancers at Nottingham University Hospitals Trust, said:
“The EGSO certification is a major milestone and achievement for Advanced Ovarian Cancer Management in NUH, and a clear recognition of all the hard work over the last 8 years by all of the members of the gynaecological cancer MDT team at the trust.
“We know there is still a lot of work to do achieve an overall survival rate in Nottingham that is comparable to the best in England and the rest of Europe. Our aim is to be able to offer these operations to the majority of our patients that require it as well as doing this in a timely manner to prevent further disease progression.
“This international recognition is also a huge reassurance to our patients for whom we will continue do the very best we can for them and go the extra mile to make sure that they are receiving the highest quality ovarian cancer surgery.
“We will continue to strive for better outcomes for all of our patients and we hope to be able to achieve the status of “Centre of Excellence” by the end of 2022. This will mean more investment and support to offer this operation to upwards of 60-70 patients a year.
“We are currently able to offer these operations to about 40 patients each year.”
Dr Keith Girling, Medical Director of Nottingham University Hospitals, said: “This is a fantastic achievement and a credit to the whole team who have worked hard to achieve this over recent years – well done to all involved.”