Psychological impact of referral to an oncology hospital on patients with an ovarian mass.



Patients with an ovarian mass scheduled for surgery were enrolled. Using questionnaires we measured (1) cancer-specific distress using the cancer worry scale, (2) patients' preferences regarding referral (evaluated pre-operatively), and (3) patients' experiences with work-up and treatment (evaluated post-operatively). A cancer worry scale score of ≥14 was considered as clinically significant cancer-specific distress.


In patients with an ovarian mass, a risk of malignancy assessment is used to decide whether referral to an oncology hospital is indicated. Risk assessment strategies do not perform optimally, resulting in either referral of patients with a benign mass or patients with a malignant mass not being referred. This process may affect the psychological well-being of patients. We evaluated cancer-specific distress during work-up for an ovarian mass, and patients' perceptions during work-up, referral, and treatment.


A total of 417 patients were included, of whom 220 (53%) were treated at a general hospital and 197 (47%) at an oncology hospital. Overall, 57% had a cancer worry scale score of ≥14 and this was higher in referred patients (69%) than in patients treated at a general hospital (43%). 53% of the patients stated that the cancer risk should not be higher than 25% to undergo surgery at a general hospital. 96% of all patients were satisfied with the overall work-up and treatment. No difference in satisfaction was observed between patients correctly (not) referred and patients incorrectly (not) referred.


Relatively many patients with an ovarian mass experienced high cancer-specific distress during work-up. Nevertheless, patients were satisfied with the treatment, regardless of the final diagnosis and the location of treatment. Moreover, patients preferred to be referred even if there was only a relatively low probability of having ovarian cancer. Patients' preferences should be taken into account when deciding on optimal cut-offs for risk assessment strategies.

More about this publication

International journal of gynecological cancer : official journal of the International Gynecological Cancer Society
  • Publication date 13-12-2022

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