Gynaecological cancers are cancers of the reproductive organs of women, which include ovarian, womb (endometrial), cervical, vulval and vaginal cancer. In the UK 18,000 women are diagnosed with a gynaecological cancer every year and of these around 7,500 do not survive.
But gynaecological cancer surgeon Mr Dirk Brinkmann says that survival rates are improving and treatments are more successful the earlier the disease is diagnosed. A healthier lifestyle, healthy body weight and stopping smoking are all helpful in reducing the risks of developing cancer. A key factor in saving lives is raising awareness of these diseases, gently encouraging discussion of intimate issues and urging women to visit their doctor if they have concerns.
There is often embarrassment associated with gynaecological matters – awkwardness prevents many from dealing with the issue and anecdotal evidence suggests that one in four women find talking about gynaecological symptoms embarrassing, even with friends and family. But this lack of awareness is preventing women from seeing their doctors to be diagnosed earlier. Due to this September has been named as Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month in the UK which is being run nationally by the Eve Appeal.
The more equipped women are about the signs and symptoms of gynaecological cancers and the earlier it is diagnosed, the better the overall survival rates and quality of life after cancer. Earlier diagnosis of gynaecological cancers can help improve survival rates so it remains important to be aware of the symptoms. This is particularly important since gynaecological organs are not easily visible. We therefore urge women to be aware of their bodies and any changes they may experience.
The symptoms of each cancer vary according to the site of the disease but there are some common symptoms which may indicate a gynaecological cancer. Symptoms include: abnormal vaginal bleeding (bleeding after menopause, after sex or outside of periods) or abnormal vaginal discharge or itchiness and swelling or pain of the abdomen. Some of these symptoms can indicate conditions other than cancer however if you have any concerns it is worth seeing a doctor. Early diagnosis of gynaecological cancers can help save lives.
For more information on gynaecological cancers and their symptoms, please see Mr Brinkmann’s website.
The Eve Appeal is a registered charity raising money to fund research into better detection, improved treatment and raised awareness of all five gynaecological cancers. All statistics provided come from The Eve Appeal website. Why not help The Eve Appeal by joining their Funny Feet fundraising campaign on 28th September?