The Northern Gynaecological Centre at Gateshead Health provides specialist gynaecological cancer services for 4 million women: Uncategorized

The Northern Gynaecological Centre (NGOC) based at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead was one of the first gynaecological cancer centres to be established on the UK, and is one of the largest.

It provides specialist gynaecological cancer services for the 4 million women who live within the region covered by the Northern Cancer Alliance. The Northern Cancer Alliance patient catchment area extends across the North East of England and includes Cumbria.

The centre is the only tertiary surgical service Gateshead Health offers; this means that the department accepts referrals from other hospitals in the region. There are other cancers surgically treated within Gateshead Trust include breast, and colorectal cancers which are high-volume departments.

Gynaecology team picture
The NGOC team

The NGOC offers specialist surgical techniques to facilitate accurate diagnosis, staging and treatment of suspected/known gynaecological cancers, by our specially trained gynaecological oncology surgeons. There are seven Consultant surgeons working at Gateshead Health to ensure women within the North East have the best possible care and experience.

Dr Nithya Ratnavelu, Consultant Gynaecological Oncologist comments on the work of the centre, “We want to ensure that all patients in the region have equal access to timely, quality care and this means, since October 2021, we have been helping our neighbouring tertiary centre in Middlesbrough.

As a result, through the Northern Cancer Alliance, we have created a clinical network and Gateshead Health is the lead provider of governance structures for gynae cancer delivery in the region for 4 million women.”

The team has to apply for accreditation every few years and demonstrate the work that is going on and what outcomes our patients have. This ensures we are continuing to provide a high standard of care to women.

Moving forward with the service, the team will be focusing on cancer management, looking at the genetics of certain cancers such as ovarian or endometrial cancers to see if the cancer has any genetic mutations or if it is hereditary. This opens up a range of treatments and options that may be better for patients. The aim is to focus on individualising care for all patients.

For ovarian cancer, surgery is required to clear all of the cancer and this involves input from various teams such as anaesthetists/intensivists, theatre teams, and allied surgical specialities, as some operations can take up to eight hours.

Gateshead Health is also the European Society of Gynaecological Oncology (ESGO) Centre of Excellence for Ovarian Cancer. The centre is research-focused, submitting publications and maintaining standards that attract doctors internationally to come and work at Gateshead Health.

This month we have been highlighting our services available for women and girls in Gateshead and the importance of screening appointments and checking yourself. Dr Nithya Ratnavelu encourages attending cervical screening appointments:

The importance of going for screening from the age of 25 is that it helps pick up if you have any high-risk human papilloma virus (HPV) or abnormal cells. It is important to catch pre-cancer early to prevent it from developing into cancer. We do unfortunately see cancer in women who have missed screening appointments.

Dr Nithya Ratnavelu, Consultant Gynaecological Oncologist

March is Ovarian Cancer awareness month, the team highlight some common symptoms to look out for in this short video. Please visit your GP if you experience of the symptoms.